In an explosive exclusive with The Standard, Minister Jobe-Njie said: “It [Jammeh’s statements] is not playing any role in impeding tourism. Whatever they say outside is the fuel for us to do even better. It is not moving us. It is not shaking us. The numbers continue to grow. We are not affected by what anybody is saying outside. They should rather stop because they continue talking and nothing changes here in this country.
“His Excellency is a great person, a blessing for this country. It has not impacted anything [his comments]. Those are normal. His Excellency is doing well. He is the envy of the whole world and so it is normal for people to say whatever they want but we are doing what we are doing. It is the fuel to the success of this country.”
Reflecting on the 2013-14 tourist season, Minister Jobe-Njie enunciated: “I think we have exceeded the 200,000 tourists visiting The Gambia because we have the Polish now. They started bringing tourists in the 2013-14 season and up till the end of February they registered 4,600 tourists because they had a big flight. The capacity for all the tour operators increased to the extent that we had more tourists than the beds available. There was an over-booking situation. If you add flights and cruise ships, we have exceeded the 200, 000 easily.
“At the moment, the winter season is outsold, outsold in the sense that more people are coming every year. I think everybody felt the success of the 2013-2014 seasons. Now our focus is the summer. Our focus is the green season. Our focus is to ensure we have at least 50% of what we had in the winter in the summer. That is the biggest challenge for the tourism sector.
“Tourism affects everybody, everybody benefits from tourism. Even the one’s selling peanuts in the streets benefit from tourism. We want to ensure that we earn a living in the summer as well as the winter. We are not focusing more on the winter. We are okay with the winter for now. But even though we are okay in the winter, we have to make sure that we keep our existing partners and the existing tour operators by partnering with them to bring tourists in the winter. In the summer, we are looking at regional tourism, looking at Africa instead of Europe.”
The former banker and hotelier hailed the president for maintaining peace and stability in the country which she said is crucial for tourism development in The Gambia: “We thank His Excellency the president because he is the chief promoter of tourism. He promotes not only tourism but culture. How does he promote tourism? By ensuring there is peace and stability in this country! People come because of the warmth of the people and the peace in this country. What you find in The Gambia, you cannot find anywhere in the world. So the result is tourism growth; the result is tourism advancement.”
By Alagie Manneh]]>