Last month, The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), with support of The Gambia Tourism Board, The Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) and The National Centre for Arts & Culture (NCAC) delivered a Master Training of Trainers on Community Based Tourism (CBT) to master trainers and youth trainees. The training is aimed at mobilizing community members, building local youth capacities and facilitating responsive marketing partnerships in villages along The Gambia River, with a focus on Janjanburreh and Ndemban areas, as part of the YEP initiative towards creating more employment opportunities for young people in the country in order to cover irregular migration.

The training took place from March 14th to March 22nd, with a successful turnout of youth participants and enthusiasm from local stakeholders. The newly trained youth participants provided well-prepared and clear presentations on potential CBT products in Jamali and Tabani to potential partners like Class B tour operators. The training included master trainers from several organizations, including the Gambia Tourism Board and TVET institutions like GTHI and the Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG). Bringing local stakeholders and partners together with the youth is now leading the way for more discussions and planning on developing the products as well as brainstorming more ideas on CBT activities for youth to develop.

In an interview with Gambia’s Capital Radio FM, Peter Richards, the YEP consultant on cultural tourism and market access delivering the training, explained more on the teaching model and objectives. To listen to the whole story from Capital Radio FM, click here.

The Youth Empowerment Project is trying to create opportunities for young people in Gambia by providing alternatives to having to go the back way into Europe, as well as returning migrants. Tourism is an opportunity for both. The idea is to develop Janjanbureh as an up-river tourism hub in the Gambia and one of the ways we are doing that is by trying to develop some new community based activities that will encourage tourists to travel to the Central River region, like Janjanbureh, and stay longer by extra night or day. Local people will be fully involved in these activities. For example, it could be local guides explaining important and special places in their community, introducing tourists to traditional arts, music, food, crafts and souvenirs. For these kind of tourism activities to come into being, it needs a process; it needs some work behind the scenes. This includes for example, inviting communities to learn about tourism and why people would be interested to come to the villages. We help them identity special things that they feel proud but also feel comfortable to share. If there are certain aspects of culture in which the villagers feel proud and happy to share, we can help them develop activities for visitors.

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For the training model, we have two types of trainees. We have what we call active youth trainees, so these are young people from Janjanbureh. They are active youth volunteers and they are the people who are actually going to be working in the villages, hoping to develop these cultural experiences . And, we have a group of people called master trainers and these are senior Gambian people with lots of experience. They are from different training organizations and from the Gambian Tourism Board. We are training the master trainers and youth together. We are giving them tools, like how to do a community study, how to develop interesting cultural tools , how to price CBT, how to help the villages have simple accounting and booking systems. So for example, if somebody calls the village and wants to go on a tour there, the villagers know how to take a booking. The masters trainers are training in this curriculum together with the youth trainees and then when the youth go back to JanJanbureh to try to be trainers themselves in the villages, they can call for assistance from the master trainers. They are going to have like a bank of time to where they can ask the master trainers to mentor them to come down and assist them. There is a classroom training and there is a field training. For the classroom training, we are at the YEP office for 4 days going through the whole curriculum. We have a process called the 5C’s , from mobilizing communities all the way to marketing. Then we are going to demonstrate and practice local community guide training. The trainees will be the people who will actually be implementing the training and our team will be mentoring them and giving them some tips.

YEP will continue more trainings on CBT and developing tourism in Janjanbureh and the rest of the Central River Region as part of the four-year strategy action plan included in the Youth and Trade Roadmap that will be launched on May 14, 2018.

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