#Article (Archive)

Tourism vital for Gambia's economy

Nov 8, 2010, 10:21 AM

As we witness the beginning of the tourist season, we welcome all tourists visiting the country and encourage many others to "Go Discover the Smiling Coast of Africa".

There are expectations that this year's tourist season will be greatly enhanced, unlike last year's.

It is, indeed, a welcome development to see all the stakeholders in the tourism sector, such as the Ministry of Tourism, the Gambia Tourism Authority, Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism, the hoteliers, and the Tourism Security Unit working hard for a successful season.

Tourism is a very important sector that contributes positively towards the socio-economic development of any nation, particularly ours that derives about 16 percent of its GDP from the sector.

The Gambia has a lot to offer to tourists; that is why it is called the Smiling Coast of Africa.

Apart from our beautiful beaches, the various species of birds, the sunlight, the ecotourism facilities and the first-class hotels, the country also attracts a good number of tourists due mainly to its peace and stability, as well as the hospitality of her citizens.

It is incumbent upon everyone to support the sector, and give it the attention it deserves, in order to move the country forward.

As we enter the season, both the GTA and tour operators have to intensify their marketing strategies in order to attract the international market for more tourists to come to The Gambia for holidays, and also to invest in the most productive sector of the economy.

Tourism contributes substantially in earning the country the foreign exchange it needs to meet its import cover, and carry out other international transactions.

The sector also creates job opportunities and other business engagements for a vast number of people in the country.

However, the sector over the years has been confronted with major challenges, such as the world economic crisis and the bumster menace, just to name a few.

On this note, we would like to urge the Tourism Security Unit not to compromise the safety of tourists in the Tourism Development Area.

Moreover, it is high time the authorities took stock of the tourism industry and started to reflect on the achievements registered and the constraints it faces, to pave the way for the sector.

The authorities would also have to look at why some of the hotels are not receiving guests as expected, compared to previous years. Is it that there are a lot of motels, guest houses and restaurants in town that the tourists prefer to staying in the hotels?

We would also like the GTA to look at the plight of the men and women selling in the craft markets, as well as the tourist taxi drivers, whose entire livelihood depends on the tourism sector.

On a last note, we would like to say let all hands be put on deck to help the country’s tourism sector go from strength to strength. 

"The travel and tourism industry, it's just a huge part of our economy."

Karen Hughes