Africa: Gambia’s minister defends controversial ‘tourism is dead’ statement, as stakeholder differs

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Gambia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat N.K. Bah is finding difficult to convince stakeholder in the tourism space on his controversial statement that tourism in the country is dead.

The minister had made the statement following the global impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the tourism and aviation sectors which necessitated travel restrictions by governments to stem the spread of the disease.

According to thepoint.gm, Hamat N.K. Bah made the statement barely a month after the destination recorded its first coronavirus pandemic case which has caused many countries to close their borders, and locked down travel and tourism spaces around the world.

The Gambia closed all its borders and airspace from all flights except for medical cargo flights on 23 March 2020 to curb the spread of the pandemic in the country.

This statement, according to many stakeholders is controversial and being declared too soon. Also, many claimed that tourism sector in The Gambia, in the past, has witnessed different obstacles which include Ebola pandemic, the political impasse and the close down of Thomas Cook Group among others.

However, Mr. Bah, in an interview defended this statement, saying “we said it was dead because nothing was happening.

He said had it been he didn’t say that by now many of the stakeholders would be having issues with their creditors who would have been knocking on their doors to collect their monies.

“If I didn’t say that, the creditors would start asking for the debts owed them by their debtors and banks could follow them and possibly close their businesses since they owe them,” Minister Bah explained.

He explained further that “there are some statements (actions taken) that one can say or said that ordinary man outside there might not know or understand, but having good implication in other aspects of it, that’s the situation.”

Whatever, he assured that they will bring tourism back from its dead situation to life especially now that arrangements are at the final stages to resume the tourism session in the upcoming winter tourism season starting October.

However, the Tourism and Culture minister’s statement becomes much talked-about after an interview with one of the online platforms, The Fatu Network, following his decision that the entire GTBoard staff should ‘stay at home’ and they ‘will be paid half salary’ because ‘tourism is dead.’

Source: thepoint.gm

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