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Gambia a safe tourism destination with no Ebola – GCCI

Sep 24, 2014, 10:07 AM | Article By: Al Amin

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), the umbrella body of businesses in The Gambia, has been working round the clock to project the image of The Gambia and keep the country’s business milieu afloat.

Speaking to The Point over the weekend, both GCCI chief executive officer Alieu Secka and its communication manager, Beatrice Prom, assured the world that The Gambia is one of the safest destinations for tourists, investment and business transactions.

The Gambia is still one of the safest tourism destinations; it is still a very clean and healthy society, and has a lot to offer in terms of tourism, CEO Alieu Secka said.

He made this statement to allay the fears of prospective tourists and the world at large, to re-assure all that Gambia is still Ebola-free and measures are in place to keep the deadly virus at bay.

“Since we don’t have any Ebola, this means we are as safe as any Western country or any other country in the world that is Ebola-free,” Mr Secka said.

He added that even though the country is free of the deadly virus that has plagued West Africa for months now, the GCCI and stakeholders such as the ministries of Health and Tourism are sensitising the people about preventive measures and health safety tips to keep the virus from entering the country.

The GCCI CEO said the presence of Ebola in the sub-region “is a very sad situation,” and the Chamber is in solidarity with countries affected by the virus.

Economic impact

Mr Secka said even though The Gambia is Ebola-free, there is indication that the trending virus in the sub-region could have some negative impacts on the local economy, particularly on tourism and trade.

“We are very concerned about the implications on our traders,” he said.“But as long as we can continue to show to the world that The Gambia is Ebola-free and at the same time we are practising safe health, we will be able to mitigate the impact.”

In addition, he said the chamber will continue to work with the national health authorities, as well as the border posts to find ways and means to mitigate the implications.

Travel restriction

The GCCI CEO also said the Chamber supports the government’s move to protect the local community and population, by not allowing entry of people from countries with Ebola.

However, he said: “Certainly, no one takes comfort in the present limitation of access by any nationality.”

He said the GCCI has issued public notices to all members, so that they can practise health safety tips, including hand washing with soap and the use of sanitisers.

Beatrice Prom, GCCI communication manager, said the Chamber has also placed Ebola preventive measures and safety tips on its website and all social media platforms such as Facebook.This is all geared toward raising the awareness of members, since businesses can only flourish in a healthy environment.

“We are very conscious that our members too have to remain vigilant; that vigilance means whatever information that is given by the ministry of Health should be adhered to by everybody so that together we can maintain the Ebola-free status,” Ms Prom added.

She further stated that currently the Chamber is working on organizing its annual mini trade fair, Marche Jula, in collaboration with the Banjul City Council, from 29 November to 20 December.

“It will attract international participants, but already we have written to the ministries concerned to inform them about the activity so that they could give us advice on how to go through.Already, they have told us that countries that are Ebola-affected cannot come to participate, and that is understood.And those that are coming to the fair from elsewhere will be properly screened,” according to the GCCI communication manager.

All these measures, she added, are put in place to ensure The Gambia remains Ebola-free and does not take any chances.