As the Coronavirus crisis continues, hoteliers are making big push for Gambia gov’t to come to their aid. They are calling on the authorities to set up a COVID-19 relief fund geared towards revamping a sector that has been hit hard by the pandemic.
Hatib Janneh, the proprietor of Seaview Hotel, Bambo Village and Bambo Garden, told this medium since the start of the pandemic things have gone from bad to worse. “If government failed to come up with a relief package, some of the hotels will file for bankrupcy,” he said.
The tiny West African nation has establised itself as a tourist destination, attracting million of tourists for over five decades. In its National Development Plan (2018-21), Gambia gov’t projected to increase tourist arrivals from 161,127 to 350,000; boost direct employment for Gambians from 35,000 to 70,000. But these projections have been shattered by what many have described as the ‘devastating impacts’ of the pandemic.
Janneh, who is a leading voice in the hotel industry, said there is no two ways about it. “We are all suffering!” he exclaimed. “Believe me: some of the hotels will not survive the Coronavirus crisis.”
Over these past months, local news outlets have painted a troubling picture of the country’s hospital industry that has fallen off a cliff: massive job lossses, restaurants closing down as outdoor dining is no more allowed, revenue drop etc.
The owner of Djeliba Leisure Group, Malleh Sallah, echoed similar sentiments, citing ‘tough times’ the hotel industry is going through.
“We are definitely experiencing tough times,” he told this medium while emphasizing that gov’t support will help the industry to navigate through the adverse effects of COVID-19.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by The Gambia Bureau of Statistics (GBOS) shows that hotels are the most affected by the Coronavirus crisis.
GBOS surveyors indicate that hotels have reported a combined loss of GMD6.4 billion” during the review period (April-June).
“Camps have a combined forecast loss of fifteen million dalasi, Lodges and Eco Lodges reported a forecast loss of GMD7.7 million and GMD5.7 million respectively,”
While forecast loss for restaurants stands at GMD33.8 million, projections for beach bars highlight a record loss of GMD27.6 million
Additionally, tour operators have reported GMD58.4 million because of COVID-19.
Written by Abdoulie John
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