Gambia targets one ‘million tourists’

By Alagie Manneh

The Gambia is looking to attract at least one million tourists to boost her tourism industry further in the next 10 years, the Minister of Tourism Hamat Bah said.
In an exclusive interview with The Standard, Mr Bah said this must be the priority of his ministry, as the country and the industry ‘staggered so badly in the last 52-years.’
“Our immediate task is to secure 500,000 tourists in the next five years and then in next ten years, one million tourists,” he said.

He said “a lot of work has been done,” in the last months designed to “rebrand the country and restore its image positively.
“We are also now going into the Middle East and other parts of the world to rebrand the country and the people appreciate that.”

He called for patience as his ministry works to deliver expectations, since the tourism industry according to him, and tourists themselves have encountered ‘massive challenges under the former regime.’
Mr Bah however said the country is now recovering as investors are coming to partake in tourism development, “and hopes are that dozens of those projects will be realized soon. So we are on a right footing in getting people back to our country.”

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  1. Yeah, yeah, yeah! big mouth. what use or benefit would that bring to Gambia when its all about package all inclusive tours? You are denying Gambians benfits of tourism. GTB dont know what to do. They are all Jammeh boys, and you also come in running your mouth freely, lying about flights coming in or hotels to be built! stop the nonsense and start looking for qualified Gambians to help your ministry to bring tourism in the Gambia where we want it and to benefit Gambia. GTB is just a bunch big mouth people. They dont know much about tourism.

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  2. Senegambia’s inelegantly expressed sentiments have a ring of truth.

    Leave aside for the moment the amusing suggestion that the Minister wants to bring to the country the equivalent of half The Gambia’s entire population, with all the strain and drain on infrastructure that would involve

    Bringing one million tourists to the hotel strip will certainly make the hotel owners rich, and may feed through in some taxes for the government, but the Minister needs top address wider issues of the us-and-them divide that exists in the tourist strip.

    Tourists are discouraged from venturing out into the “real” Gambia by government-imposed restrictions on taxi access and ridiculously high prices for tourist taxis.

    Tourists are deterred from engaging with local activities because the roads are full of badly over-crowded death-trap vehicles, often with lights hanging off, bald tires, brakes that barely work, and windscreens plastered with images obscuring the driver’s view, none of which the police seem the least bit bothered about.

    Tourists are deterred from venturing further afield by constant police checkpoints, and at the river crossing immigration checkpoints, where a white man will be singled out from a bus-load of black Africans, any number of whom may not be Gambians, and the white man alone asked to produce documents.

    Tourists are deterred from venturing out by the lack of adequate basic facilities – toilets, for example – that are taken for granted in other holiday destinations.

    And so on and so on.

    The Minister would do well to try engaging with the ex-pat community like myself who have fallen in love with the country and its people and understand what Europeans and other foreigners want and expect when they come on holiday to a country like this.

    Want they want, apart from the winter sun and the beautiful beaches, is to see the real Gambia without being treated like a walking ATM and being overcharged, or being fleeced by the bank ATMs themselves – Standard Chartered charges us 300 dalasis a time to withdraw cash from its ATMs!), or treated like a paedophile suspect if they try take local children for a treat to the beach, or treated as a criminal when they try to cross the river, or…

    One million tourists? Be serious, Hamat Bah.

    “A lot of work has been done to rebrand the country and restore its image positively.”

    Never mind rebranding. When the tourists get here and find out nothing’s changed, they will not be impressed. They didn’t care who the president was then, and it makes no difference to them who the president is now.

    Make The Gambia pleasant holiday experience and the tourists will come in their droves. But that means getting out of the government limo, stepping outside the pretty hotels, and looking at the real Gambia the tourists are faced with.

    Come join me at Senegambia Strip, Hamat Bah, and show my why any tourist would want to pay 600 dalasi for a trip to a capital that has no attractions? Come show me what and where the tourists might go after they have paid through the nose for the packaged-holiday excursions to the Kunte Kinte theme village or the Monkey Park?

    Most tourists spend most of their time and money in the hotels and never return a second year. If they just want a hotel and beach holiday there are many better destinations that are far cheaper than The Gambia.

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  3. One million tourists comming! (Hamat Bah). Lies, lies, lies! “A lot of work has been done to rebrand the country and restore its image positively.” Thats Another falacy; an old slogan that we have heard since the time, Yankuba Touray, Angila Colley, Susan Ogo, Nancy Njie, Fatou Mass, Benjamin Roberts and all the directors that manned GTA repectively GTB. Except Habib Drammeh, Lamin Saho and Kaliba Senghore, all the other directors that GTA/ GTB ever had are all just a bluff with no idea of how to operate tourism in Gambia. I have been working in the industry for more than 20 years and can with experience say the problem with tourism in Gambia, is that people are politically appointed to head important institutions óf tourism such as Gambia Tourism Board.

    Mark Williams, you are right, we have a very bad structure in place thats ruining tourism, thanks to the many unqualified people that are still in the system running the affairs of tourism in the country. It wouldn’t matter if you bring in a billion tourists, management is key issue that we will always face if our leaders are not serious with work. You cannot have people little knowledge or lacks competence to head such important institution and expect results.

    We might agree to some extend, engaging the ex-pat community with knowledge of the socioeconomy of the country in collaboration with Gambian experts in tourism development/management and marketing can do well. Habib Drammeh knows the very best people who can do the job. He is now head of the civil service and must try and get this work seriously done now

    Amat Bah should know what the job of the Ministry is and not to confused it with what GTB should be doing. The ministry is a policy maker and he should stick to creating good policies and bring in educated and experienced Gambians to do the job. Let him stop running round the World attending trade fares! Thats the job of GTB and not the ministry. We have to be serious if we want results with the economy.

    How can we put so called bankers running our tourism marketing body (GTB) and we expect results? How can we let all the tourism technicians sidelined or kicked out of the system by the former regime for political reasons continue to be outside and we expect wishful thinkers to fix the problems? Gambia must now get seroius and never repeat the misstakes of the past regime. We are hopeful, government will listen and take the right cause of actions.

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