The Internationale Tourismus Bourse Berlin trade fair, popularly referred to as ITB Berlin, opened on March 5 and ended on March 9, 2014. During the customary opening statements, Dr. Martin Buck, ITB Berlin Vice President, pointed out that “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has been a very strong element this year,” indicating that “Four out of the five opening speeches” talked about the topic of sustainability in tourism.
The issue and the concept of sustainability in tourism, in particular concerns relating to the environment, and social and economic dimensions of tourism, are becoming increasingly relevant to every tourism destination serious about longevity. Globally, tourists are becoming increasingly conscientious of the need to strike a balance between the environment, economic profitability, and the social viability of local communities.
The inter-linkages between Tourism and the local communities with the communities benefitting in no small measure from tourism is exemplified in the Gambia by the likes of Sandele Eco-Resort, Sindola, Makasutu Forest, the Kartong Coast Project, Tendaba Camp, Baobolong Camp, Baboon Island Lodge, and Sittannunku Lodge.
Eco-tourism remains a tourism focus area for destination Gambia with an overall rank of second in Africa; second to South Africa. It is, therefore, not a surprise that the Gambia Tourism Board was recognized during the 2014 ITB trade fair in Berlin, Germany, by Unister Travel – the largest online travel business in Germany – for its proactive stance in the development of sustainable tourism. The recognition was for its efforts in focusing the need for the attainment of a much-needed balance between the economic, social and ecological (environmental) dimensions of tourism to ensure the realization of a sustainable and prosperous tourism industry.