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Hamat lauds achievements as tourism minister

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By Omar Bah

Former tourism minister, Hamat Bah, has said the country’s tourism sector made significant strides under his stewardship.

Addressing a press conference organised to highlight his achievements as minister of tourism, Bah who is now the minister of lands and regional government, stated: “When we came, the arrival numbers were between 139,000 and 150,000 per year, but from 2019, this government has raised the number of arrivals to 230,000. When Covid-19 came, we went down to 90,000, and then we recovered quickly, and by December, we are expecting to reach around 300,000 arrivals. We achieve this through rigorous marketing by Gambians, who replaced foreign firms to promote this country.”

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He said they found public relations firms that were hired and based in Europe promoting Destination Gambia.

“They were paid thousands of pounds just for writing short statements in the name of promoting The Gambia, but this government felt that was wrong, so we hired Gambians and sent them to promote this country, and they have done extremely well,” he said.

Minister Bah said the government’s decision to terminate the contracts of those firms was driven by the fact that the government feels Gambians will do better promoting their country than foreign firms.

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He disclosed that twelve new hotels will soon be completed and that the government has succeeded in getting back the Scandinavian tourists who were lost due to the collapse of Thomas Cook travel company.

“We have also made several breakthroughs that would facilitate the coming of several flights from Italy and other countries this year,” he said.

Mr Bah said he has laid a strong foundation that would help his successor succeed and take the tourism sector to another level.

Minister Bah said the government has taken a decision to engage the media more frequently to respond to issues and inform Gambians on the developments and challenges it faces to avert unnecessary rumours and respond to unfounded allegations.

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