Following a two year tourism suspension globally as a result of Covid-19, tourism in The Gambia has now started as the country receives its first tourist flight for the 2021-2022 winter season on Friday - the Gambia Experience - being the first flight from the UK onboard 136 passengers.
The aircraft upon arrival was received by officials from The Gambia Tourism Board, as well as other tourism stakeholders in the country.
Speaking to journalists shortly after the landing of the aircraft, Abubacarr Camara, director general, Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) who deputised the minister of Tourism and Culture, said this year's tourist season shows a good sign, as we receive the Gambia Experience from UK bringing this number of passengers.
He said for the past two years, "we would not expecting these arrivals, but today is an important day, which is the arrival of the first flight."
"When you talk about tourism, it has to go with quality facilities, and as a result of that, majority of the hotels have been ready for accommodation, because after two years of closure, they needed some form of support to be able to renovate their facilities.
DG Camara told journalists that the UK is a very important market, adding they are also working with other source markets like the Netherlands, France, Germany, Belgium etc to make sure that they penetrate destination Gambia.
We have also been working with other stakeholders to make sure that what we called mandatory protocol with the support of the Ministry of Health and WHO to have a printed protocol to guide all tourists to abide by.
For the issue of election in The Gambia, DG Camara said the election would not affect the tourists' season, although there has been a lot of peculations that there is need to move our election from the period where we used to hold it, but I am certain that usually if you look at the history of our election, we don't have much problems apart from the past impasse.
Gambians are peaceful people and I think the election would be held peacefully without any problem.
Adama Njie, director of Marketing, Gambia Tourism Board, said during the covid, the entire tourism fraternity almost collapsed. "We have also engaged our partners since the covid started to see what we can do in terms of joint marketing, that's why you have seen the first flight," he said, adding that at the level of the board, they are working very hard with their parent ministry to make sure that, there is always quality service delivery.
FPAC cuts over D77M from 2022 budget estimate