Delegate Spotlight: H.E. Ambassador Barry Wells

20 May

Name: His Excellency Barry Wells
Title: Ambassador of the United States to the Republic of The Gambia
Organization: US Embassy, Banjul, The Gambia
Location: Banjul, The Gambia

On the second night of ATA’s 35thAnnual Congress in the Gambia, US Ambassador Barry Wells hosted the delegation for a reception at the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa.

“In my two and a half years in the Gambia, I’ve come to consider it as the secret jewel of Africa. But it’s not a secret you want to keep. The secret is out, The Gambia is the place to be,” he said in his opening remarks.

Robyn Deutsch and Chi Lo caught up with the Ambassador later on in the reception to ask him a few questions.

Q: How has holding the Congress in the Gambia impacted the destination?
A: I think it is had a tremendous impact. It’s a very different Gambia now than in 1984, when ATA last held its congress here. I like to call the Gambia the “Hidden Secret of West Africa.” When my colleagues come to visit, it’s very much a surprise, but we have been promoting tourism.

Q: What types of improvements, if any, do you think can be made for Destination Gambia?
A: Right now, we are attracting a singular market, and that is budget travel. I would like to see development of a more inclusive market. I’d like to see development of a more sophisticated product, as well as see them do something around branding. It is important to develop a product that is an attractive product so they get return visitors.

Q: What are some of the challenges you see in developing tourism in the Gambia?
A: I think there is a lot of potential, and The Gambia has a young population. We need the development of personnel to be trained to service the tourist industry. It’s about getting the whole community involved so [the world] knows it’s a tourism destination.

L-R: Edward Bergman, Executive Director of ATA, Honorable Fatou Mass Jobe Njie, Minister of Tourism & Culture of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency Barry Wells, US Ambassador to the Gambia

Photo: Chi Lo

Ambassador Barry Wells wholeheartedly supports tourism and spoke much about job creation and what the tourism industry can do to create jobs and support the economy. During his post as Ambassador of the United States to the Gambia, Ambassador Wells has collaborated closely with the Gambian Tourist Authority to achieve tourism related initiatives. Ambassador Wells ends his tour in two months and will return to Washington, DC.

Posted by Robyn Deutsch and Chi Lo

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