By Alagie Manneh
Tourism minister Hamat Bah has jumped to the defense of his ministry’s plans to open the tourist season in October, telling critics of the idea to “talk their talk while we walk our walk”.
The ministry came under attack on social media after it announced Monday strategies to resume the 2020/21 tourist season. Critics of the idea said the ministry failed to put into consideration the country’s battle with Covid-19, while others argued that it is pointless to subject tourists most of whom come for two-week holiday to 14-day mandatory quarantine.
But responding, Minister Bah said the faultfinders have failed to understand the concept behind his initiative. He said he expected them to know better.
“Covid-19 protocols are not written in the bible,” he stated, adding that they are subject to changes.
Minister Bah said the October plan was designed in the hope that regulations surrounding Covid-19 would be relaxed before the months to the proposed plans.
“We don’t expect any tourist to come here and spend 14 days in quarantine. The two weeks will not be applicable by the time we reach October. The right people, the genuine Gambians contacted us and we explained everything. That is what we expected,” he stated.
The outspoken minister warned people to be mindful of the statements they make online and in public spaces in order to “preserve and protect the country’s good image”.
“Those who sit in their rooms and speak on tribal sentiments, I hope they will never succeed,” he prayed, without elaborating.
“Let’s protect and preserve and support this country. It’s not about OJ or Halifa, it’s about The Gambia. It’s sometimes very scary.”
Silver lining in Covid battle
The minister proclaimed that The Gambia can in fact defeat Covid-19 if it does everything right.
“It is no longer containment; it is now management. The virus is already here but together, we can defeat Covid-19. Yes, The Gambia can defeat Covid-19 with.”