May 28, 2009, 8:45 AM
In addition, tourism officials have assured all that Thomas Cook airline will be flying to Banjul on a weekly basis with 200 tourists.
Last year’s tourist season was full of challenges due to the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Even though the virus itself has not spread to The Gambia, its impact was really felt – holidaymakers were put off from visiting ‘the Smiling Coast’.
The good news is that the fear seems to have gone, as Ebola is gradually subsiding even in countries that were hardest hit.
To that effect, the outlook of this season is quite positive with the arrival of the first flight one month before the usual start of the tourism season.
A total of at least 70,000 tourists are expected to visit the country before the end of the season.
Nothing less than nine flights are expected from Holland and eight from the United Kingdom; a total of at least 25 tourist flights are expected in ‘the Smiling Coast’ for this year’s tourist season.
So really there is a gleam of hope and the outlook is quite positive; hence there is optimism that it is going to be a great season.
The tourism officials, particularly at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Gambia Tourism Board, must have made a lot of efforts from the end of the previous season to now to warrant this hopeful beginning.
Meanwhile, all the tourists are welcome to enjoy the miles of golden coastline, long hours of sunshine, and the balmy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
However, if the beaches, birds, sunshine, and the hospitality of The Gambia which have made it ‘the Smiling Coast’, are properly marketed, the country could be a notch closer in achieving the vision and aspiration to transforming the country into a tourism haven.
Tourism is one of the vital nerves of The Gambia as it accounts for a huge percentage of the annual economic output, and more than 20,000 people are employed by the sector. So every effort to further enhance the development of the industry should be hastened.
Meanwhile, there should be concrete contingency measures in place to cater for any emergency that could disrupt the tourist season, so that the gleam of hope in the development of the industry is not dashed for anything that could be tackled.
“How could we have discovered great lands, if we dare not travel?”
Lailah Gifty Akita