By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Hotel Association (GHA) has honoured destination managers Joyce Stavroulakis and Johanna Thors for their outstanding contributions to tourism and bringing continuous positive recognition to Destination Gambia.
Joyce is the destination manager of renowned operator Gambia Experience and has served at various stages during her career with the tour operator spanning over two decades.
She joined the Gambia Experience in 1997 with a year round operation as resort manager, a position she held until the Covid-19 pandemic hit the industry.
According to the GHA, Tthe Gambia has witnessed several increases in the numbers of hotels, hotel beds and tourist arrivals during her 23 years career with Gambia Experience.
GHA chairman Francis Njie said even though the industry faces series of shocks over the past two decades including the credit crunch crisis, Ebola, attempted coup and the 2016 political impasse, Mrs Joyce remained supportive, calm and assuring to both owners and general managers in helping them see out these difficult hurdles.
“Gambia Hotel Association honours your 23 years of service, sense of duty, dedication and friendship to this destination and its people,” Chairman Njie said at the ceremony held at a local hotel in Kotu.
“To most of us hoteliers, some who have sadly passed on, she [Joyce] is not just a colleague but a lifelong friend of excellent conduct,” he added.
The Gambia Hotel Association, founded in the 1970s, is the body representing the major hotels in The Gambia with a membership of 40 hotels and resorts.
Meanwhile, Swedish born Johanna Thors, who has been working for defunct Thomas Cook and most recently Nordic Leisure Travel Group, was also conferred an award for her outstanding contribution to The Gambia’s tourism industry.
She has been working as contracting manager for the Scandinavian Market in The Gambia since 2012.
Chairman Njie disclosed Scandinavian tourists visiting The Gambia increased in volume from 7000 to 18000 tourist arrivals per season during her time as contracting manager from 2012 to 2018.
She was also credited for her instrumental contribution in introducing and creating the link for the start of the first adult concept hotel in the Gambia called Sun Prime Tamala beach.
“The GHA thanks you for your keen interest in seeing destination Gambia become a top tourist spot and your approachable nature, friendship and respect to all your contracting partners and your love for this country and her people,” he added.
Johanna Thors described the award as “very special” saying it is an indication that her work has been appreciated.
“I feel very thankful to receive an award from a beautiful country like Gambia. It has been a good journey and I have seen this country grow and grow and become so much better in tourism,” she said.