The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hon. Hamat N.K. Bah, met tourism stakeholders on Monday at the Banjul International Airport in Yundum.
The gathering was among other things geared to meet and to discuss issues with a view to coordinate their activities and efforts to make this year's Tourist Season the best in terms of products and service delivery. The Tourism hospitality industry comprised among other things, products and services, designed, developed and marketed nationally and internationally. The Minister promised the whole country that he will ensure that the tourism sector is revitalised in order to contribute immensely in the GDP of the country. The Minister also promised the country that there will be many tourists coming to the Gambia this year than ever before. He promised to re-energise the Sector to a vibrant one in order to create jobs for more than 20,000 Gambians.
Speaking to the Minister, Captain Bubacarr Bah, Commander Tourism Security Unit (TSU), said the challenges that tourists are confronted with in the country include the 'Bumster' menace, which he said is escalating; that the 'bumsters' actions of hassling, pestering, disturbing and harassing guests by way of trying to forcefully befriend them in an unpleasant manner or attempting to impose un-demanded goods or services, is unacceptable. He highlighted that there has not been a registered incident of terrorism in the Gambia but pointed out that they have to be cognizant of the fact that this is a global threat that has no boundary and continue to monitor events and activities in our surroundings. He also said cyber-crimes in the world are escalating and there is need to come up with solutions in order to prevent occurrence in the Gambia.
"Cyber-Crime has now morphed into the potential for cyber terrorism. Most tourism centers have no back-up plans, should there be a major cyber terrorism attack. This challenge to our tourism is real and needs to be factored at the strategic levels," he said.
He noted that the best way to handle a crisis is to avoid it.
On their operations at the Airport, Captain Bah said they have doubled the outer cordon, secure entry and exit points, install lighting systems, and reinforce CCTV Systems and a multitude of different security elements operating within the facility. He however said there is need to restructure and delimit authorized accessibility areas for visitors in the main Airport building and the parking area, where most of the hassling takes place; that otherwise, the Airport will continue to be chaotic as it is always, during arrivals.
"TSU will equally coordinate and collaborate with all Sister Security Agencies within the airport and therefore solicit their fullest cooperation and support in the execution of their duties and will continue to monitor and review the security situation and adjust itself accordingly as and when necessary," he said. He called on the government to support them with vehicles because lack of vehicles hampers their movement.
For his part, Momodou Ndure of the Gambia Immigration Department (GID) said they are also part of the tourism stakeholders and provide services to make better provision for the control of migration in and out of the country, in order to ensure meaningful development in the tourism sector.