11th – 19th January, Davina Stanford and Lucy McCombes led an MSc Responsible Tourism Management ‘Ninki Nanka’ study tour to The Gambia. We had 12 students join us – a great combination of our full-time and distance learning students (including two of our current Gambian students) – plus we met with several of our Gambian alumni during the programme who are now working for tourism-related organisations such as the Gambia Tourism Board, International Institute for Travel and Tourism in The Gambia (ITTOG), Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute and the award-winning Footsteps Ecolodge.
The programme focused on linking our responsible tourism management modules to real life Gambian case studies of destination management, product development and cultural heritage site management – in particularly around engaging the students in the ongoing development of the Ninka Nanka Trail that is currently being implemented as a pioneering new responsible tourism product/destination along the River Gambia. The students were able to make a very positive contribution to this new responsible tourism development by piloting and providing feedback on a new Banjul walking tour, a new short Ninki Nanka Trail ‘light’ itinerary aimed at the existing tourist markets and a new half- day visit to a village on the trail that will be included on a high-end Seabourn Cruises excursion on 26th January.
Our study tour also coincided with the first FAM trip for the trail for international tour operators funded by the Gambia Youth Empowerment Project/International Trade Centre, including a representative from Explore who has recently signed up to do the MSc. Our MSc staff and students have made a valuable contribution to a wide range of responsible tourism development initiatives in The Gambia over the last 10 years and we feel very proud of what we have achieved in partnership with a wide range of inspiring in-country stakeholders such as our study tour hosts at ITTOG and Adama Bah who received an Honorary Doctorate from LBU last year. Next step is to focus our energies on the ‘greening’ and environmental management of the Ninki Nanka Trail.