As many nations of the world gradually start to reopen international flights, while grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chairperson of Tourism and Travel Association of the Gambia (TTAG), Liane Sallah, has cautioned that “tourists coming to the destination Gambia have nothing to do with the airport opening, as everything have to do with how The Gambia as a country is dealing with COVID-19.
Speaking in an interview with ThePoint.com, Mrs. Sallah said, “This is because everything needs to do with how many people that are infected; how many people are sick; how is the coronavirus developing in the country; is it going down or up?
“So, opening an airport doesn’t make tourist-chartered flights come in, because of the situation which is not only here, but world over.” she emphasized.
According to her, hence destination Gambia “is still in Code Orange, tourists will not come because in Code Orange countries, insurance companies will not cover any tourists to come (travel). This means tourist flights are cancelled as long as Gambia is in Code Orange.”
Yet she noted that “when destination Gambia goes back to Code Yellow then the country will be accessible; therefore, we need to do better by continuing and adhere to the preventive guidelines.”
Dilating further on the codes, Mrs.
Sallah explained that if The Gambia is out of Code Orange “we are getting chance of tourists wanting to come but we also have to bear in mind that tourists that are expecting to visit the destination during the season are usually the Europeans from United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, and Scandinavia, Belgium.
Those countries at this point in time are facing Code Orange in Red.”
This she classified as dilemma – meaning The Gambia is having a serious problem but if “Gambia can get out of Code Orange I think we need to focus more marketing in Africa itself,” she stressed.
She expounded that in Africa, there are people who like to travel “so there is need to look at the air access from those countries and start focusing on that instead of focusing on Europe because we now have a chance to focus on other source markets.”
The current situation, she said, has large effect on the industry in terms of flight that are not coming, restaurants and bars not open, suppliers to the hotels not getting order and not making any sale.
“Every business is suffering; the pandemic has created lots of damages on the economy which is now going through a big punching.
Companies are struggling for survival especially if you are not getting any relief,” she said.
Mrs. Sallah therefore called on government to open all closed businesses now, which include restaurants, bars, hotels, among others “to enable owners keep the businesses and make ends meet.”
She argued that if market places where there is no door or somebody to monitor activities of people with regards to COVID-19 rules and regulation such as social distancing, use of facemasks in the market, washing of hands and use of hand sanitiser among others “definitely there is no need for censorship and closing of other businesses from activities.”
“It doesn’t make any sense to open market places and continue to close restaurants and hotels. Because you cannot control market but you can control restaurants, bars and hotels. So it is not correct to continue closing them because they have families to feed too.”