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‘Tourism growth suppressed by negative media reports’

Dec 22, 2014, 10:06 AM

Finance Minister Kebba Touray has said The Gambia’s tourism growth has been adversely affected by negative and indiscriminate media reports on the Ebola outbreak in few West African countries.

Hon. Touray told parliament on Friday, whilst reading the national budget, that “the tourism sector experienced robust growth in 2013/2014 with record arrivals of 171,200 tourists compared to 157,323 tourists in 2012/2013 representing 9 percent growth.

“The impressive growth in tourism in 2013 is being eclipsed by the negative international media publicity on the Ebola epidemic in some of the West African countries, resulting in some flight cancellations and low sales for the 2014/2015 winter season,” the minister said.

Indicative statistics from one of the biggest tour operators, Thomas Cook, reported a 51 percent decline in seat sales and a 52 percent drop in package sales, he added.

“As a result, they had to cancel three of their six flights to Banjul. Gambia Experience, on the other hand, recorded over 200 cancellations while sales for TUI [Touristik Union International] and Correndon in the Dutch markets are down by 20 percent and 15 percent respectively.”

The minister added that WHO has predicted it could take up to the middle of 2015 before the Ebola epidemic could be brought under control.

“This requires positive campaign to turn around the industry for the 2015/2016 season,” Hon. Touray said.