By Momodou Torp
Hamat Bah, Minister of Tourism and Culture has called for the proscribing of ‘endless planning and programmes’ to shift focus on investment in tourism and the construction industry.
He said investing in these sectors, which are catalysts for job creation, would bode well for the country’s future.
“Too much of lecturing and talking have to end now. Once the construction industry and agriculture are boosted, then there will be development,” he added.
Minister Bah was speaking during the Africa Summit 2020-Toolkit virtual meeting. The meeting was attended by several African diplomats under the theme, Covid-19 Pathways to Africa’s Economic Recovery and Growth.
According to Bah, government is working on post Covid-19 strategies on the economy in general particularly the tourism sector.
“We believe that with the low number of Covid-19 cases that is recorded, and the strategies put in place, the country should be able to go back to the market. Looking in to the domestic tourism, my ministry is putting in some infrastructural developments across the country which will certainly make a difference because all our tourism arrivals are international, “he said.
He said Covid-19 was a surprise to everyone because the speed it comes with from China to Gambia is beyond Gambia’s imagination, and those are the lessons the government needs to learn from.
“Gambia has a very bad health infrastructure which everybody knew for the 22 years of dictatorship under Yahya Jammeh, and prior to July 1994 the Gambia had one of the best primary health care systems in the world records. Unfortunately, that did not help within the 22 years of Yahya Jammeh regime, ” Minister Bah noted.
He explained that his ministry’s target is other African countries that could be attracted to come to Gambia as domestic tourists as well as regional tourism. “Despite coming from a difficult situation the government has even surprised the World Bank to the speeds that we were able to revamp the economy and then put it back on tract, and within three and half years we are able to achieve what we lost and that is remarkable knowing full well that when we took over power we had over 130 percent debt to GDP, ” Bah explained.