They had recorded a decline on arrival figures, which was directly caused by the Ebola virus in West Africa.
The GTBoard chairman made this statement recently before the joint session of the Public Accounts Committee and Public Enterprises Committee (PAC/PEC) of the National Assembly, while presenting The GT Board’s annual activity report for the year ended 2014.
Chairman Jammeh told deputies that the World Health Organization and the international press reported about an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and they did not clearly specify the countries that were affected by the virus.
As a result, many tourists were afraid to travel to the region and that had impacted negatively on Destination Gambia by decreasing the arrival numbers.
This also increased the marketing expenses, as the GT Board had made the strategic decision to continue to promote the destination.
He further told deputies that the Gambia government thought it was necessary a decision to be taken on the Ebola virus impact by the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Health and the chairman of The Gambia Tourism Board.
The objective of the decision was to engage the tourism partners, primarily the international tour operators, to reinforce the message during the outbreak in March 2014.
“The Gambia remains Ebola-free and, as a result of this, measures were adopted by governments, particularly the ministries of health to prevent the Ebola outbreak.”
They were also tasked to engage the travel trade and the international press to reinforce the message that The Gambia was Ebola-free, he added.
“We were also tasked to put in place strategic plans that we needed to take in partnership to promote the Destination Gambia; not only to increase our tourism arrivals, but also to achieve our Vision 2020 target.”
In this regard, he added, the GT Board chairman and the Minister for Tourism and Culture embarked on a mission, in November 2014, and they had meaningful engagements with their partners in the United Kingdom, Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands.
“This helped greatly to blunt the negative impact that the international press announcement on the Ebola outbreak made on The Gambia in the 2014 and 2015 tourist seasons, and we have begun to see the positive effects in the last season.”
The GT Board chairman further informed deputies that tourism continues to play a vital role in the economy and the Gambia government has always played a positive role in the sector.
“We at the Gambia Tourism Board have concerted our efforts to become a tourism haven and paradise, as the message says for Vision 2020, under the directive of the Minister of Tourism and Culture and, in collaboration with all stakeholders, our main focus remains the same.”
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