By Tabora Bojang
The Gambia Hotel Association has demanded an immediate emergency bailout from government to save the hospitality industry from being ‘wiped out’ due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The vast closure of hotels, small and medium size businesses at every level within Tourism area are having catastrophic ripple effects, hitting huge number of employees and suppliers. The ripple effect of Covid-19 is right now having a massive impact, wiping out an entire economic sector.
“As a matter of urgency, we demand from government to factor the tourism, hospitality and allied sectors in any emergency funds received from donors with immediate recovery assistance,” the Hotel Association and Tourism & Travel Association of the Gambia said in a joint statement.
They saida rapid evaluation on the impact of COVID-19 on tourism and allied sectors conducted by GBoS, reported a forecast loss of D6.7 billion from April to June.
“Out of this the hotels reported a combined loss of D6.4 billion, tourists camps reported D15 million while lodges and eco lodges have also reported a forecast loss of D7.7 million and D5.7 million.”.
The two associations, chaired by former minister of tourism Fatou Mass Jobe and Liane Sallah, proposed a five-point plan for government to take and combat the devastating effects of Covid-19, which include immediate intervention, financing, taxes, employee support, licenses and municipality rates.
On licensing and municipality rates, the associations demand government to give concessions to tourism establishments through introduction of waiver of operational licenses.
Loans and financing
The associations also called on government to provide financing in the form of low interest loans to enable operations post Covid-19.
As well as financial institutions to restructure all existing loans and overdrafts extend moratorium of 12 months and suspend interest on all facilities to overcome our liquidity challenges and as a stimulus to prevent them from collapse.
They urged the Gambia Government as a member of the African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF) to quickly review and adopt the ATAF guideline to the response measures African countries can consider implementing to ease the burden of the pandemic on taxpayers and to ensure business continuity.
Cognisant of the negative consequences and in particular the social impact of COVID-19 would have in the employees laid off, the associations called on government to take care of salaries for a minimum period of five months (from April) and implore Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation to pay workers part of their contributions for the sake of assisting the effected persons.”