By Olimatou Coker
Gambia Red Cross Society (GRCS) in collaboration with the Spanish Red Cross granted a D21 million relief package to stakeholders in the tourism affected by the Covid-19 outbreak.
The pandemic has triggered an unprecedented crisis in the tourism industry affecting the wider economy, job losses and closure of hundreds of businesses.
This stimulus package is intended to reopen the tourism economy and get businesses up and running for a successful recovery.
A total number of 415 individual and the eight (8) other tourism associations will benefit from the relief support.
The 415 individuals will each receive a maximum D 37,000.00 grant to either re-start or diversify their business while eight association’s namely the National Tour Guides, Craft Markets Federation, Hairdressers Association, Bird Watchers Association, Fruit Sellers Association, Juice Pressers, and Boat Owners Association of Sarro Denton Bridge will each receive collective D 510,000.00, to build or renovate their damaged structures hampered by the pandemic.
The project is supported by the European Union (EU) and was launched at the Red Cross headquarters in West Field Thursday graced by the EU Ambassador to The Gambia Red Cross president Corrado Pampaloni and Tourism Minister Hamat Bah and a host of other dignitaries.
Addressing the event Gambia Red Cross President Jatto Sillah, president underscored the significance of the project towards improving the socio-economic situation of people working in the informal sector of the tourism industry.
He noted that despite signs of recoveries shown in many others sectors of the economy, the informal sector of the tourism industry remains stagnant, which is why the ‘EU through the Spanish Red Cross and GRCS outline this programme to help rebuild the tourism sector which has been seriously dilapidated due to slow down of arrivals.’
The project manager Spanish Red Cross Carla Sala, commended the cooperated efforts between Gambia Red Cross and its partners to the realisation of the project.
Gibril Sanyang, president of Craft Market Association, said since its outbreak in the country on 2020 the pandemic has drastically affected the lives and livelihoods of people working in the tourism industry, stating that the package will go a long way in supporting their recovery efforts.
Gambia Red Cross Secretary GeneralAlasan Senghore, sincerely thanked the EU for the consistent support to compliment the humanitarian efforts of the Red Cross as well as the Spanish Red Cross for close collaboration.
EU Ambassador Corrado Pampaloni, said the pandemic has affected the whole world and Gambia is no exception.
Pampaloni noted that the cash transfer aspect of the project, will help to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 to the beneficiaries saying ‘cash transfer is the most effective and efficient way of distributing emergency aid.
Tourism minister Hamat Bah thanked the GRCS and partners for what he called a timely intervention. He urged the beneficiaries to be responsive and use the money for its right purposes.