It is November, which is supposed to be the peak season for the country’s winter tourist season and yet there are few tourists coming to The Gambia for holidays, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Hence, stakeholders in Gambia’s tourism sector are increasingly concern about the low tourist arrival into the country. Almost all hotels are virtually empty. This has led to many hotels not hiring seasonal workers because the clientele is not there for hotel owners to make money from the collapsed sector.
According to one concerned hotel owner, if the current trend continues, many hotels will wind up operations in the country. He tells Freedom Newspaper that the few tourists so far arriving into the country are not high spending tourists.
“We are faced with a serious dilemma. The tourism sector is virtually dead. Our hotels are completely empty. There are few guests coming into this country. And these are not high spending tourists. They usually rent private homes during the course of their holidays in The Gambia. There are few tourists staying in hotels nowadays. People are coming into our hotel day in day out applying for jobs, but we do not have jobs to offer them. We are running out of losses. In the absence of tourists, there is no point running a hotel in this country,” the frustrated hotel owner lamented.
“The President Yahya Jammeh should be blamed for the low tourist arrival in this country. The majority of the tourists visiting this country, come from England, Sweden, Germany, Finland, Norway, Denmark, and elsewhere around Europe. The President’s threat to behead gays and lesbians, has impacted negatively towards this onetime viable sector. Many western countries have issued travel advice for their citizens not to visit The Gambia, in view of the increasing homophobic hate speeches coming from the President. Look at now… what is happening in this country? There are hotels all over the place with no guest. The Tourism Minister Benjamin Roberts tried his very best to attract western tourists into the country, but without much success. The laws in this country needs to be revisited. There is no sense for Jammeh to use his rubber stamp National Assembly to promulgate draconian laws seeking to sentence gays and lesbians to life imprisonment. We are doomed as a nation,” he warned.
Tourism Minister Benjamin Roberts recently attributed the crumbling economy to some of the ghost businesses operating underground in the country. He observed that the state is losing a huge junk of revenue—thanks to the unregulated underground businesses. He said his own sector—Tourism, has been hard hit by the nation’s underground business phenomenon.
Gambia’s tourist season starts in October, and ends in June. But as the situation appears, there are few tourists arriving into the country. Few hotels are being booked.
“I am a tour operator. I have been in this business for over thirty five years. I have never seen such a poor tourist season in my career as a tour operator. The situation is very worrisome. This sector has now become a ghost industry. You go to Senegambia Beach hotel, the rooms are empty; Kairaba hotel, the same. The President should understand that he cannot run this country in the absence of tourists. Instead of passing friendly tourism laws, he is killing the sector with his stupid antigay laws. We do not have the problem of gays and lesbians in this country. The only problem we are faced with is: An inept, incompetent, arrogant, stupid, selfish, erratic, delusional, deranged, and dumb President, who doesn’t have the country’s interest at heart,” said the concerned tour operator.
“We have more hotel workers out of job today than ever before. The vendors at the tourist market are also complaining. Tourist taxi drivers are complaining. Yahya Jammeh wants to mix religion, and culture with government economic policy. Tourists have been coming to this country well before he was born. Because of one selfish man Yahya Jammeh, an entire tourism industry has been killed. Jammeh is also competing with us on the same sector. He owns three quarter of the tour buses operating in this country,” he lamented.
Written By Pa Nderry M’Bai