It’s high level training that embeds sustainable tourism principles in any destination and this is the basis of the partnership between Central College Nottingham and The Institute of Travel & Tourism of The Gambia (ITTOG). Since this bilateral program was initiated in 2008, with a shared mission statement for "Success through Learning", tourism students in both countries complement each other via their curricula and cooperation. Until this partnership, there was a lack of quality tourism training in The Gambia but students now follow programmes written and accredited by Central alongside the National Training Authority of The Gambia. Sustainability, poverty reduction, human rights and social justice are subjects being discussed, dissected and debated at both institutions, thanks to the careful planning of Central’s Travel & Tourism Curriculum Team. Since its opening, 411 students, male and female, have graduated from the 427 enrolled (96% success rate). The Institute now provides a direct pathway into local and internationally-owned organisations largely due to its growing reputation for training local people in sustainable and ethical tourism. Education at ITTOG focuses on how best tourism can work for local communities so they do not compromise their culture, ethics and religious beliefs, nor become exploited economically.
Central’s students also reap the benefits of this cross cultural exchange, with seventy students travelling to The Gambia every year to participate in CampAfrica - an intercultural dialogue focused on sustainable tourism. They take part in community and environmental activities and work together on projects that develop the skills of all involved. For example UK students have delivered first aid training and employment skills to Gambian learners and, in response, Gambians have delivered training on their culture, beliefs and values, to develop UK students’ global knowledge and awareness of cultural heritage and its role within the tourism industry.
The ultimate beneficiary of such pioneering training is, however, the tourism industry. Gambia’s decision to create a national tourism strategy based on responsible tourism was heavily influenced by ITTOG, which suggests that “Success through learning” is no longer just a mission statement for these two institutions. It is a mission accomplished.