The Gambian and Turkish governments represented by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) and the ambassador of Turkey to The Gambia respectively, Monday signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the field of tourism, at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The agreement seeks to recognise the importance of tourism as a factor of economic development as well as a means for further cultivating the ties and understanding between the peoples of the two countries.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the minister of Tourism and Culture, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie, noted that the collaboration with Turkey in the field of tourism is expected to improve product and human resource developments as well as tourism investment in The Gambia. "This will in turn lead to enhancement of visitor experience and a surge in tourist arrivals," she added.
She further noted that Turkey has witnessed rapid growth over the past years, as illustrated by the accelerated growth of the number of visitors and nights spent, as well as other economic indicators related to hotel capacity and tourism investment. Since Turkish tourism is focused largely on a variety of historical sites and seaside resorts, the minister said, there is certain degree of similarity in the tourism product of both The Gambia and Turkey, adding that in term of benefits, "there is great disparity".
On his part, Ali Riza Ă-zĂ§o?kun, the Turkish ambassador to The Gambia, expressed his delight with the MoU, saying that the cooperation in the field of tourism is very important to the two countries. He further said the agreement will enable his country to share experience and contribute to the development of the industry in The Gambia. "Turkish do not know where to go in Africa but with this it will make Turkish to know and visit The Gambia because it is an important destination," he added.
Momodou Joof, permanent secretary at MoTC, described the signing of the MoU as yet another historic moment in Turkey-Gambia relations.He said Turkey is a long time friend of The Gambia, also acknowledging that the latter has been providing assistance in the area of health and education to The Gambia. He also noted that the two countries share a lot in common when it comes to tourism as they actually market their countries as a tourism destination due to their culture and seaside resorts. "Therefore this MOU will provide the two countries opportunity to share experiences, knowledge and information in the area of tourism. The country is standing a chance to benefit in the area of product development, hotel gratification among other things in the field of tourism," he added.
Joof then commended the minister of Tourism and Culture, Fatou Mass Jobe-Njie; and Gambia's ambassador to Turkey, Jibril Joof; for their efforts in ensuring that tourism in The Gambia develops to a higher height. Also addressing the gathering, Ambassador Joof said the opening of embassies in both Turkey and in The Gambia would bring various key investments, further cooperation and development to the country, especially in the area of tourism. He added that The Gambia will learn and benefit a lot from the country.
PS Joof and Ambassador Ă-zĂ§o?kun signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments, in the presence of Minister Jobe-Njie, director of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Embassy staff, MoTC and Gambia Tourism Board officials. Benjamin A Roberts, director-general of GTBoard, chaired the occasion.