First tourist flight due Friday

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By Tabora Bojang

The 2022-23 tourist season begins this week with the first batch of tourists expected to arrive at the Banjul Airport from the U.K. on Friday 14ht October, with tour operators Gambia Experience.

The director general of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abubacarr Camara, revealed yesterday that another renowned operator Corendon from the Netherlands will also make its maiden flight on Sunday October 16th 2022.

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DG Camara added that signs are looking good for a 50 percent tourism recovery from the Covid-19 period.

He disclosed that although some operators including TUI and Rainbow Tours are yet to confirm their maiden arrivals, a number of scheduled flights is also expected to bring  tourists and other regular guests into the country during the season.

“Everything is in place. All the hotels are doing their best to upgrade their status. Our Quality Control and Licensing Department has also assessed all the facilities to make sure they are up to standard and we are working tirelessly with the relevant authorities to ensure that we have a very good booking and payment systems so that people can sit in their homes in Europe or anywhere and book their hotel and flight to The Gambia,” Camara said.

According to DG Camara, GTBoard has put in place ‘stringent mechanisms’ to tackle the menace of “bumbsters” and other crimes perpetuated at the industry.

“We have already made it clear that the industry is a no-go area for all those menaces and are working to ensure that we cleanse the TDA,” he assured.

Corendon Airlines representative in The Gambia Liane Sallah said they will be operating weekly flights to Banjul for the next six months, with one flight which could be extended to three flights weekly by December if bookings rebound higher.

However, Madam Sallah noted that they are mainly concerned that the ongoing road works and rising crime could hamper the season.  She also cited the high security levy at the Banjul Airport as another factor that stifles tourism recovery efforts. “The safety of our clients and the ongoing road infrastructure are the two main issues that we are going to struggle within this season in addition to a lot of issues of crime and robbery and they [the authorities] need to work to ensure these crimes are away from the TDA and take the rotten apples out. The levy too has been a serious problem already but I know they are not going to take it away even though it is part of the reasons Nordic Leisure Travel Group is not coming. Paying D1000 coming in and out [of The Gambia] is too much. I have already proposed that if we have a lot of flights, they can reduce the cost [security levy] from D1000 to D500 but even that has proven to be a problem,” she said.