22 November 2012

Gambia: Tourist Taxi Drivers Raise Concerns As Season Commences

Foroyaa is focusing on the small scale operators in the tourism industry in order to identify the challenges they are facing with and the measures needed to address them. This reporter visited the garages of the tourist taxi drivers in one of the busiest tourist areas at Senegambia and Jerma Beach Hotel.

Talking to the tourist taxi drivers about their constraints following the announcement of the official commencement of the tourism season last month, Mr. Sheriff Marong, the Vice President of the Tourist Taxi Drivers Association, identified their first problem as the involvement in the business of transporting tourists by other vehicles that are not registered by the Gambia Tourism Board.

He said they often sit and watch the yellow taxis coming to pick tourists from the hotels to take them out when they are the vehicles that are officially registered to drive tourists around.

Mr. Marong said the other problem they face is that the hotel operators do also have their own means of transporting the guests in and out of their hotels which, he said, is also restricting their market.

He said most hotels now have their own buses to transport tourists to different places which should have been done by the green taxis.

The vice president said if these issues can be addressed by the authorities, then their problems will b addressed.

When asked about how the tourist season is faring so far with them, Mr. Marong said they would sometimes sit there the whole day without seeing a single tourist who needs a taxi. "This is what I'm talking about, We see buses from hotels and the yellow taxis taking tourists who should come to us to transport them as we the green taxis are the officially registered vehicles to carry tourists around", he said.

He said they are finding it difficult to do tourist transportation business and this is the only occupation they rely on to earn in order to sustain their families.

The vice president also called on the Gambia Tourism Board to provide identity cards for some of their members who are not yet issued with one to enable them to avoid being restricted from coming to work in the Tourism Development Area (TDA) by the security.

He concluded by expressing his hope that although the situation is not yet encouraging it will become better as the season progresses along with the addressing of their concerns by the tourism authorities.

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