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‘Gambia’s domestic tourism is still zero’

Jun 5, 2020, 10:58 AM | Article By: Yunus S. Saliu

Hamat Bah, the minister of Tourism and Culture has emphasised the need for domestic tourism in the country, arguing that The Gambia position in terms of domestic tourism still remains zero.

“We will make changes in all parts of the country. Currently, we have zero on domestic tourism and that’s the danger we are facing today. Looking at other countries that have domestic tourism, even with the current situation of the coronavirus pandemic, they have started opening their hotels,” he said.

Minister Bah was speaking recently during the laying of the foundation stone for the construction of the D.K. Jawara Resort in Barra in North Bank Region.

According to him, they intend to work with investors to build other facilities in James Island, Juffureh and Albreda.

He said: “I have no doubt that we will give Gambians the encouragement and facilitate support from Gambia Tourism Board to build hotels and lodges of international standard throughout the River Gambia,” he revealed.

Mr. Bah maintained that “we don’t have domestic tourism, as all our hotels, restaurants, bars are closed, and hence it is zero revenues for government and owners.

With the current pandemic, he added, it is important to use the covid-19 as a lesson for the country to learn from our past mistakes and put efforts together to accelerate and develop domestic tourism as enshrined in the National Development Plan (NDP) of the country.

He further added: “Due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic throughout the world, thus it’s important for us to prepare well so that “we will develop a very strong tourism industry that matches together with our culture.”

Tourism and culture, he explained, complement each other, thus “we need to develop both of them together so that people that are coming into the country will discover our cultural heritage and they would love to come back again.”

The tourism minister added that they also wanted to promote regional tourism, arguing that it can only be promoted when “we have quality facilities”.

“This facility which we’re laying today will be replicated in all parts of the country. Therefore, it will encourage other countries surrounding The Gambia to come on holidays and visit our beautiful and peace loving country.”

Consequently, he said, they cannot tell when will tourists start coming into the country as tourism worldwide is facing an unprecedented challenge.

“At the moment we do not know when the coronavirus pandemic is going to end and we have no idea as to when the world is going to defeat covid-19. The tourism and travel industry is in trouble; therefore tourists coming from abroad can only come if it is safe to come. Inasmuch as we want tourists to come, we will not sacrifice the interest, the safety and well being of Gambian people.”

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