By Omar Bah
The National Assembly member for Baddibu Central has criticised tourism authorities’ sex comments against British grannies. Few months ago, The Telegraph UK quoted a top tourism official of The Gambia saying the government would welcome tourists interested in the positive side of the country and not those who came just for sex.
“What we want is quality tourists – tourists that come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists that come just for sex,” Gambia Tourism Board’s Abubacarr S Camara had told The Telegraph. The GTBoard head added that the country wanted to move beyond older people from the UK’s working-class backgrounds and target higher-end tourists and millennials.
According to him, the government was considering empowering police to round up bumsters and old women in suspected relationships in its bid to crack down on sex tourism.
But reacting to Director Camara’s comments during the debate on the State of the Nation Address, Sulayman Saho said: “The statement from the ministry accusing British women of coming to look for sex in The Gambia is segregatory and has the potential to seriously affect our tourism. I don’t expect a responsible institution to make such statements. Those women have the right to marry anybody which is a fundamental human right. As we always talk about human rights, we must agree that marriage is a human right and a matter of choice. If you can look at a particular country and label them, are you not killing your tourism?”
At that point, the NAM for Old Yundum, Abdoulie Ceesay raised a point of order claiming that his colleague was deviating from the topic under discussion.
But his point of order was overruled by the Speaker, Fabakary Tombong Jatta, who in very simple terms stated that all matters of national interest can be discussed during the debate on the State of the Nation Address.
Honourable Saho then continued: “I am also very disappointed with the Ministry of Tourism. This National Assembly approves funds for eco-lodges to be constructed within the country but nothing is happening there. What is the ministry doing about it?”
Honourable Saho said the Gambia Revenue Authority should put forward serious measures to fight against leakages in its revenue collection.
“Our institutions that are mobilising revenue for this country should be ready to fight corruption. They should make sure that they block the leakages in the system,” he said.
The Gambia Revenue Authority has recently launched a new ASYCUDA WORLD web-based system funded by Africa Development Bank to ease the collection of revenue and as well promote transparency and accountability in the system.
The NAM said the government should revisit the calibre of people it sends to the foreign service and what they are bringing to the country.
“I think the president should tell us last year to date, the flagship projects brought by these foreign services. We are spending a lot of money on them but we don’t know what they are bringing to the country. Honourable Speaker, it makes no sense to send every Tom and Harry to the foreign service.
We don’t need people there who will just be there to receive salaries and allowances. We need people who will promote the image of this country and support Gambians living in those countries,” Honourable Saho said.
The lawmaker said the West African troops are no more welcome in the country.
“I believe the Ecomig troops should leave because it is expensive to sustain and we cannot continue to leave our security in the hands of foreign troops. We want our men in uniform to be in charge – we have no hatred against our sister troops but I believe the president should know that the Gambian forces should take over security of this country,” he said.
He said the government should make sure that the process of seeking justice for the victims of human rights violations is completed so that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.