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‘Bumsters remain a formidable challenge to GTBoard’

Nov 22, 2012, 9:02 AM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

The issue of bumsters and limited product suites within the Tourism Development Area remains a formidable challenge for the Gambia Tourism Board, the GTB’s annual report 2011 has revealed.

The report, presented before members of the Public Accounts/Enterprises (PAC/PEC) Committees of the National Assembly on Wednesday, stated that tourists continue to be harassed at the airport and in the streets by bumsters.

Bumsters in Gambia are mostly harmless, unemployed young men who try to hassle tourists into giving them their money or some other benefit.

The report noted that cultural centres, green parks, golf courses and marinas for fishing are products that would help improve our product suite.

According to the GTB annual report, low air access continues to be a major hindrance to the destination.

“The absence of direct flights from key markets such as Russia and Poland pose major challenges in terms of boosting arrivals from key source markets and efforts should be accelerated to lure more airlines,” it added.

Logistical constraints, it said, remains a challenge with capturing tourist arrivals data at the border posts.

The report further also revealed that the marketing budget has been shrinking over the past years, noting that with renewed marketing as a strategy to boost arrivals, there is the need to augment the budget and to increase the GTB’s campaign to include direct consumer marketing in key primary markets like the UK, Holland, Spain, Sweden and Germany.

Meanwhile, in a statement delivered at the session, Benjamin Roberts, Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board, underscored the importance government attaches to the development of the tourism sector.

According to him, the tourism sector is very important not only in The Gambia, but also globally.

“Tourism under this government continues to be a leading contributor of foreign exchange to our economy thus improving the living standards of many Gambians,” Roberts told the session.

 He noted that given our resource constraints and global competitiveness in world trade and the difficulty in attracting direct foreign investment in sub-Saharan Africa, tourism is one sector where Gambia has a major competitive advantage.

“The tourism sector constitutes a major leg on which PAGE rests and is the second largest contributor to GDP, contributing about 12.5% with an estimated job creation of about 75, 000,” he added.

The restructuring of the Gambia Tourism Authority into the Gambia Tourism Board, he went on, was primarily for the objective of achieving a Tourism industry that is more robust, dynamic, and capable of making contributions to GDP of 25% by the year 2020 in line with Vision 2020.

“To achieve this, government felt that a more professional and results-oriented institution needed to be created with a renewed focus on marketing complemented by enhanced product development in efforts to increase tourism arrival numbers from the traditional average of about 100, 000 tourists per year to half a million tourist arrivals by 2020,” Roberts added.

At the end of the session, deputies unanimously adopted the Gambia Tourism Board report after deliberating on it.