600 employees turn jobless as FTI winds up operation

Jul 14, 2020, 11:12 AM | Article By: Yunus S. Saliu & Sanna Jallow

At least 600 workers of the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Senegambia and Coral Beach Hotel Brufut will turn jobless in less than 73 hours due to FTI’s winding-up operation in the country, as they have invoked force majeure on the management lease of Kairaba and Coral Beach hotels.

FTI Group is tour operator for promotional products under the umbrella of the hospitality company Meeting Point Hotels; the Group’s five hotel brands are Labaranda Hotels and Resorts, Designs Plus Hotels, Kairaba Hotels and Resorts.

FTI, who resumed destination Gambia for the second time took over the management of Kairaba and Coral Beach Hotels in 2017 and employed a total of 600 staffs working at both hotels. The management has so far paid D27,436,342 as salaries to the staff  for 30 months of work.

Giving a further breakdown of the two hotels’ expenditure for 30 months, Hedi Ben Aissa disclosed that FTI paid a total of D261,458,865 to local suppliers in 30 months, paid a total of D70,742,216 to local tour operators in 30 months, paid a total of D156,557,982 to hotels and lodges in The Gambia in 30 months.

He added further that in two and half years FTI has paid taxes to the government as follows: GRA Corporation tax D18,726.749, GRA Income Tax D13,331,489, GRA Expatriate Tax D4,962,720 and GRA VAT D79,377,153.

Hedi Ben Aissa explained that during the low season of 2019, FTI operated five flights per week and brought 25,000 tourists to The Gambia in three and half months. “As a result of the impact of Coronavirus on the tourism industry in The Gambia, FTI invoked a Force Majeure at the end of April 2020, six months before the end of its contract with M.A. Kharafi and Sons.”

Further to their lease agreement, he noted “that third party mediation concluded that FTI has the right to invoke a Force Majeure at the end of April.”

Answering further questions as he was quizzed by the press, he disclosed that FTI had paid staff salaries for the months of May and June on humanitarian grounds “despite the pandemic, FTI is till accepting bookings from tourists in Germany and will continue to work with partner hotels and airlines to bring tourists to The Gambia.”

After July 13th, he said, FTI will maintain an office to settle all its outstanding liabilities to suppliers while hoping to return to The Gambia post Covid-19.