FTI pulls out due Covid-19, other factors

Jul 20, 2020, 11:10 AM | Article By: Yunus S. Saliu

The departure of FTI, one of the biggest tour operators in Europe from destination Gambia for the second time is not limited to the issue of Covid-19 alone but many other unnamed factors are related to the departure.

The departure was a surprise to some stakeholders but not to those that foresaw it.

Commenting on this issue, Sheik Tejan Nyang, head of School of Institute of Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITToG) affirmed that the industry is facing huge challenges “which cannot overcome without government intervention.”

He noted that it is the second time FTI is shutting down and the company controls 45 to 59% of the Destination Gambia market “and withdrawing at this time is a big blow to our industry.”

Mr. Nyang reiterated that “FTI’s departure is not only due to Covid-19 as there are many other factors related to it that has not been said, as lots of promises were made by the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and not fulfilled, which is the main reasons for their pullout.”

Talking about their return to the destination in 2017, he named and applauded those who negotiated for their return “and these people are still very much alive to shed light on the big promises made to FTI Group but never fulfilled,” he said.

Still fresh in his memory, Mr. Sheik Tejan Nyang remembered that two years ago, he warned the GTBoard led by its former Director General, Abdoullahi Hydara, about the eventual pullout of FTI during their review meeting on the sides of Akwaaba African Travel Market held in Lagos State, Nigeria.

While lamenting on the departure of this tour operator, he disclosed “the biggest worry is that they (FTI) owe the industry over a €1 million (One Million Euros) which has left most hotels in limbo.”

For intervention purpose, he called on the government of The Gambia to intervene on the issue though “the industry is for private sector but government has a big role to play in the survival and welfare of players,” noted Sheik Tejan.

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