By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Government plans to give the country’s struggling tourism industry a lifeline with a support package of one hundred million dalasi.
Tourism minister Hamat Bah said yesterday that the relief package is principally provided by the government and is designed to help tourism businesses to survive a massive drop caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The funds, according to Minister Bah, have already been disbursed to the accounts of the ministry’s technical agencies like the Gambia Tourism Board, National Centre for Arts and Culture and Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute to commence allocations of the funds to the beneficiary individuals and institutions.
The package covers only tourism registered businesses and individuals and is set to cover the following; 413 tourist taxi drivers, 145 fruit sellers, 81 juice pressers, 76 hair dressers, 517 craft market vendors from Senegambia, Kotu, Cape Point, Palma Rima, Fajara, Bakau, Banjul and Brikama, 158 tourist guards & bird watchers, 120 miscellaneous businesses including bureaus & gift shops, 118 hotels & guest houses, 68 eco camps & lodges, 21 ground tour operators, 25 car & other equipment renters, 125 tourist boats &vessels, 108 bars, restaurants & night clubs, 55 beach bars, 15 travel agencies, 16 casino’s & gambling houses, Institute for Travel and Tourism, Fajara skills Centre, Taku Liguey Skills Centre, YMCA, Leeky Hair Dressing, 59 artistic groups, 45 artistic individuals, Gambia Music Union, Gambia Writers, Theatre, Film producers, Book Publishers & fashion designer Associations.
The minister however tasked the implementing technical institutions to carry out the disbursement with due diligence and transparency to ensure that the severely hit industry gets back on its feet and operational.
Asked if the ministry conducted an in-depth assessment to ensure no one is left out in the package as evident in the disbursement of the UNDP relief package for the informal tourism sector, the minister responded that the Gambia Tourism Board has made a thorough assessment with all its partners to ensure no one is left behind in the process.
“I was very upset with the UNDP assessment, I even wanted to stop it because there were people that were left out and I do not know why. But with this one, there is no doubt that it will get to all its targets,” Bah explained.