West Africa Discovery website

Please visit the West Africa Discovery website to learn more about West Africa and our selection of sustainable tourism tours, accommodations and voluteer projects.

Friday, 27 November 2009

New Gambia Responsible Tourism educational trips on West Africa Discovery

We are pleased to announce a new listing on our 'Tours' page! Introducing three sustainability and responsible tourism educational tours from the Gambia, West Africa. They are the following:

Gambia ethical lodge holiday:
Our first addition is on a four day sustainable tour in which the tourist will spend a day with Gunjur Environment Protection and Development Group (visiting Bolongfenyo community wildlife reserve, eating a local lunch and experiencing a cultural performance, as well as discovering the community owned Beekeeping Centre). There will also be possibilities to visit the Gambian Reptile educational centre, to explore Gunjur Village and to learn from the management at Footsteps eco-lodge about their sustainable structure model.

The tourist will benefit the local community by visiting local projects that create local economic growth; sharing culture and tradition and supporting sustainable solutions to poverty reduction and conserving the environment. In addition they will be staying at an eco-lodge which uses solar power and has a natural filtered pool, grey water filtration system and composting toilets to mention but a few of their initiatives.

Gambia sustainability educational tour:
Secondly, we have added an 8 day sustainability educational holiday in which the tourist will participate in a workshop in Responsible Tourism at the Institute of Travel and tourism, pay a visit to Maalis Music School and discover traditional storytelling through the means of the Kora (traditional instrument), learn about sustainable development at Sandele and Kartong, meet local suppliers and visit a community based ecotourism camp and discover local dance and taste traditional food.

Gambia green educational tour:
Last but not least, a 2 day educational tour on which the participant will experience a day with the National Environment Agency and meet with different experts, visit to a women’s garden and debate on issues regarding sand mining and industrial activities. They will also visit ASSET (Association for Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism) members including SIFO – a bee-keeping and traditional home, GiG – Gambia is Good project (including lunch) and a Paper Recycling Skills Project.

The tourist will benefit the local community in their destination by visiting their projects owned and operated by the local people. The visit contributes to creating local economic growth; sharing culture and tradition, supporting sustainable solutions to poverty reduction and conserving the environment. ASSET (Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism in The Gambia) has been successful in promoting small scale enterprises and promoting responsible tourism initiatives. ASSET aims to "bring together, advocate for, and promote a large number of small scale enterprises that are active in the tourism industry in The Gambia."

If you are interested in any of the trips listed above, or would like to enquire about West Africa, Responsible Tourism or any other matter that you feel we can answer for you, please do not hesitate to contact us (info@westafricadiscovery.co.uk).

We are actively looking for new, exciting and awe-inspiring West Africa based tours and accommodation that strive towards the fulfilment of the criteria outlined in the Cape Town, Kerala and Belize declarations on responsible tourism in destinations, and will keep you posted on any new listed projects as soon as they appear on the website.

Until then, please visit www.westafricadiscovery.com or follow us on twitter and facebook.

Monday, 16 November 2009

WTM 2009: small-scale Responsible/Sustainable Tourism projects get the upper hand

The WTM in London has traditionally been an event where the established players of the tourism industry market and sell their products and services. But at the 2009 event last week, from a small-scale start-up point of view, I felt that this event was equally about meeting new and inspiring ventures that aim to promote travel that follows the policies outlined in the Cape Town, Kerala and the newly published Belize Declarations on Responsible Tourism in destinations.

My week started on the Monday evening before the big event. Having cycled 45 minutes from Battersea to Bank, and getting lost in the process, but experiencing the wonderful night views of the Thames, I arrived in a fully packed and to say the least noisy basement bar where the Fringe Network event was in full swing. Small-scale tour operators from around the world who advocate Responsible Tourism practices were chatting away, bouncing ideas off one another and generally having a good time.

The atmosphere was positive and the Tripbod team who organised the event seemed genuinely elated and a little bit surprised about the great turnout. After a warm welcome from Sally (Tripbod) and Gopi (The Blue Yonder), representatives from Rough Guides, Intrepid and Travel to Care were on hand with motivating and inspiring speeches. This was followed by a very quick 'speed networking' session, which I abused by going through 3 whistles without changing 'date', and the scene was set for a great WTM 2009 at the ExCel event venue in London Docklands... after I managed to find my way back home on my bike.

Needless to say, I kept bumping in to my newly found 'Fringe friends' at the WTM event, and throughout the three days, thoughts, ideas, tips and business cards were exchanged. It made me realise that I am not alone in my small-scale quest for the development of Responsible Tourism, and that I am actually part of a community which is willing to help, support, encourage and inspire the members towards their common goals.

The World Responsible Tourism Day was another highlight when it comes to small to medium scale Responsible/Sustainable Tourism projects. At the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism awards, there was a big emphasis on projects which had come a long way and had made a significant positive impact in the destinations where they are operating. And the big names from the tourism industry that were present at the WRTD may have learnt a thing or two about the positive impacts that can come from managing a tourism project in a responsible way.

Another event which showed that the small-scale Responsible Tourism projects were getting much more coverage than previously was the launching of the Green Circuit, a collaboration of Indian sub-continent based tour operators which came together to promote Responsible Tourism development, by none other than the WTM chairwoman Fiona Jeffrey.

The WTM was also a good opportunity for small-scale tourism businesses to get free advice which would otherwise not be affordable when starting up. In the afternoon of Thursday 12th November, free advice clinics were carried out for those who had previously registered when receiving the WTM newsletter in the weeks before the main event.

The above examples show that in the apparent economic crisis, the small scale Responsible/Sustainable Tourism ventures can find opportunities and growth in an environment where the big cheeses of the tourism industry rule. But such a feat cannot be achieved alone. The key to success seems to be the sense of community shown between projects, the same sense of community which these projects are trying to promote through their tours.

Visit www.westafricadiscovery.com for more information.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

New step towards internet marketing opportunites for tourism in West Africa

Last month a Nigerian Telecoms company announced that it will expand their top of the range fibre optic network to include Benin and Togo thus giving more opportunities for Internet based marketing to a wider number of businesses and individuals.

Phase3 Telecom, Nigeria’s leading communications network provider plans this move to bring the total of network connected West African countries to six, enabling faster and more efficient communication for the region and linking them to the rest of the world. By doing this they also allow the possibility of the network spreading even further to Ghana, and maybe beyond to cover the whole of the West Africa region.

As my interests are in the Responsible Tourism industry within the West African region, I see this as a great opportunity for Responsible Tourism projects to invest in internet marketing and potentially attracting a wider market to their countries. This could contribute towards the development of sustainability, and put emphasis on the valorisation and conservation of cultural, historical, natural and social heritages.

New technology and tourism marketing could work hand in hand to achieve the goal of putting West Africa on the map as the next Responsible Tourism destination. This in turn would valorise the awe-inspiring and inspirational elements that make the region so special and increase the awareness of markets that were not before reachable towards the potential for sustainable development, renewable energies and responsible tourism in the concerned countries.

This may be the next big step in the development of the West African region, the step that may unite the countries of West Africa through communication so that they can work together as a community towards their common goals.

To read the article that prompted me to write this blog, click here.

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Email me at info@westafricadiscovery.co.uk