She said arrivals topped the 200,000 mark and that at the height of the winter season there was a shortage of hotel beds in the country. Part of this as she intimated was the arrival of tourist from Eastern Europe mainly Poland. But Destination Gambia also benefited a lot from the political and security-challenges in popular destinations like Greece and Egypt.
With no abundant mineral resources, the Gambia depends heavily on tourism, so it is only praiseworthy that one of the few avenues through which revenue is generated is registering development.
The importance of tourism can be seen in the many employment opportunities it offers for the otherwise unemployed young people of the country. Many young people complain about not being able to land gainful employment after graduating from school and consequently, they look for succor in this most vital of industries. It is to the credit of the government and its agencies like the Gambia Tourism Board, that beach boys, otherwise known as bumpsters, are trained and incorporated into the mainstream of the industry.
The importance of the industry is obvious and therefore we must not be slack in working for its preservation and progress. Stakeholders must be continuously engaged in facilitating a proper methodology in sustaining this very key revenue producing sector. As a developing country, our avenues of income must be cherished and protected at all costs.
Inimical factors such as undue harassment, violence and drugs will be detrimental to the growth of the industry. We are known as a peaceful people, which is one of the main reasons we are a major tourist destination in Africa. With increased tensions in neighbouring countries, promoting peace and stability will be of key importance. A main cause of the dwindling of tourism around the world is the threat of terrorism and extremism, and we can no longer be fooled into thinking that we are immune to these threats.
We should also intensify our campaigns in fighting child sex tourism. Tourism and revenue generation will be a curse if we cannot protect our young ones from exploitation and abuse. Inasmuch as we seek to see and exponential growth of the industry, we should always be in the forefront in ensuring that ethical and moral responsibilities are upheld by all those visiting our shores.
We once again commend the ministry and the tourism board for their tireless work in making The Gambia a major all-year round tourist destination.]]>