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Monday, 10 November 2008

West Africa Travel Market - MBOKA 2008

West Africa has been, for the past couple of decades, a popular destination for holiday makers seeking sun, beaches, and luxury hotels. However, many of the holidays that cater for the European market are, to say the least, not responsible.

Recently, new initiatives have been seeking to promote a responsible/sustainable form
of tourism which would directly benefit local communities and environments whilst educating the tourists in the diverse and colourful cultural, environmental and historical heritages found across West Africa.

The West African Travel Market (WATM) is one of these initiatives, and, as quoted in their brochure, aims to facilitate the co-operation between tourism businesses from West Africa and the European travel trade. It acts as an open platform where local businesses and communities, international tour operators, investors, NGO’s and governments can meet to support a sustainable development of the tourism sector in West Africa.

The WATM is established as a permanent initiative offering an integrated set of instruments and actions such as an online market event, international marketing support and an annual West African Travel Market Business-to-Business event.

Examples of the type of projects that this initiative aims to support can increasingly be found across West Africa. The Tiwai Island wildlife sanctuary is one of them. Situated on an island in the Moa river in Sierra Leone, this venture is located in an area with one of the highest density of primates in the world, and is home to endangered chimpanzees. The park offers a unique experience to discover the rich flora and fauna of the rainforest through forest trekking, wildlife watching and boat tours. The sanctuary is a community conservation programme, managed by the Island Administrative Committee, which represents both communities, government, universities & conservation organizations. All funds raised go towards the further protection of the park as well as supporting the Community Development Fund.

This year, the WATM, MBOKA 2008 was held in Banjul, The Gambia, and hosted a large turn out of a wide range of stakeholders such as:
• European tour operators searching for new and sustainable tourism products
• Sustainable products looking for market access
• Hotels and destinations interested to become more sustainable
• Governments looking for exchange of experiences and success stories
• Promotion agencies searching for partnerships
• Development agencies identifying new approaches and promising initiatives
• Private investors looking for opportunities and inspiration

So if you are interested in participating in the next West African Travel Market, don’t hesitate to visit http://www.westafricantravelmarket.com/ for updated information on sustainable products, to meet with international tour operators, or to register for the next MBOKA West African Travel Market.

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