Mariama Bah created the app, MyGambia to promote destination Gambia. Read below our interview with her.
What’s On-Gambia: Congratulations on your new app MyGambia!
Mariama:Thank you so much!
Please tell us briefly about yourself?
I was born and raised in Kololi, The Gambia. I am married, my husband and I are blessed with two wonderful kids and we live in London. My first degree was a BA (Hons) in Business Administration and I've also got a Master’s Degree in Responsible Tourism Management.
I have an entrepreneurial spirit and love doing my own thing, which is probably something I got from my parents. I believe in humility, integrity and respect for all.
Where did the idea for MyGambia come from?
The idea of MyGambia started after I finished the professional report for my MSc. I had done a lot of research and had a lot of information on Tourism in The Gambia. I thought of writing an RT guidebook as I hadn't come across one for Gambia written by a Gambian. So after going back and forth with ideas, my husband and I decided to do an app which although won't have as much information, would be far more accessible.
Give us a rundown of what it does?
The app is a great tool that can be used to learn about destination Gambia and what is on offer. It highlights the accommodation offer, places to go, things to do, travel tips, and responsible tourism information. It also has an investment page and an entertainment page that includes music mix, local radio stations, local news and videos. We are also working on adding amongst other features a flight info page and to make the app interactive to enable users to leave feedback on various facilities in The Gambia. So keep an eye out for updates!
Is it already available to the public?
The app is readily available to the public on iOS (appstore) and android (google playstore) or on these links below for Android:
What has been the response from the public?
The public response has been overwhelmingly positive, which is something I am very thankful for. However, we still have a lot of work to do to get it out there.
What changes do you think your app will bring to the Gambia’s tourism industry?
Most destinations these days have a travel app, it just makes life easier. The MyGambia app will arm the visitor with information that might not necessarily be provided by the tour operators. I think a lot of people still go on holidays without being quite sure what to expect or exactly what a destination has to offer. The app provides visitor information beyond sun, sea and sand. A lot of it is geared towards getting visitors to get to know our beautiful country and its people for it is only through meaningful interactions that people will gain mutual respect and understanding for one another. The Gambia is culturally diverse, the people are beautiful and welcoming, there is a lot to see and experience and the app provides ideas and information to help you along your journey of discovery.
Did you study IT in school?
No I did not study IT in school, I just choose the right man! (laughs) My husband designed and built the app. He is a banker but he is a bit of a geek!
Your dad is a prominent person in the tourism industry. Do you have any partnership with him or his organisation?
I won't call it a partnership, but we do have a very close relationship. My dad has a wealth of knowledge and experience in Tourism. So, of course I do seek his advice and value his opinion. But like him, I am very stubborn and in some cases do find myself doing the complete opposite of what he advices!
What about The Gambia Tourism Board (GTB)?
GTB have been very supportive and encouraging, especially the marketing and responsible tourism team in both their London and Gambia offices. They are steadfast in their commitment to promoting The Gambia and raising standards.
Do you agree that GTB is the most useless tourism board in Africa (laughs)?
(Laughs) Noooo! I couldn’t possibly agree with that statement! I would argue that they are amongst the best and most progressive.
Any plans to return home and work in the tourism sector?
If the right opportunity presents itself at the right time, absolutely. However, one does not necessarily have to be in The Gambia to contribute. We now live in a global village and that allows us to reach out and do our bit in so many different ways.
What are your final words?
I am aware that people are concerned about the impacts of Tourism at home but like everything in life there are negative sides to the industry. However increasingly these negative impacts are being acknowledged and addressed by various stakeholders. The introduction of a Responsible Tourism policy in 2002 has largely contributed to a decrease of these negative impacts and an increase in the positives. The Gambia as a country is heavily reliant on the Tourism industry and when I say the industry I mean both holiday visitors and Gambians from the diaspora visiting family. We have seen the huge economic impact the recent Ebola epidemic and the subsequent reduction in visitor numbers has had on The Gambian economy.
If conducted in the right manner, Tourism can be a great contributor to poverty alleviation and local economic development. It is our collective responsibility to promote what we have on offer and you can start today by downloading the MyGambia app and getting others to do so.
Get downloading!!!!!! It's FREE!!!
Thank you very much Whats On- Gambia!