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City of Banjul
Sunday, September 20, 2020

Why did Thomas Cook cancel flights to Gambia?

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A regular visitor to The Gambia who has been affected lamented: “Our arrival has been delayed a little by the sudden decision taken by Thomas Cook not to fly from Gatwick in October, so now we are booked to come with Gambia Experience on Friday 17th October. By the way, the BBC ran an apology for possible confusion of Ebola and The Gambia a couple of days ago and stated in all the major news programmes that there is no Ebola in The Gambia and that tourists are still being welcomed there.  So, hopefully that might help a little.” 

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Another passenger from London identifying herself as VB queried: “I have arranged to do voluntary work in The Gambia with Save the Children. I booked flights to Banjul with Thomas Cook, but its flights have been cancelled and the passengers, including me, have not been notified. I only discovered the flight suspension by reading third-hand accounts on Trip Advisor. 

“When I logged on to “Manage My Booking” on the Thomas Cook website, the flight still appeared to exist. Surely this is highly irresponsible of Thomas Cook and unethical. If I had already flown out I could have been left stranded in The Gambia without notification from Thomas Cook.” 

The Independent newspaper in the UK reported that Thomas Cook has confirmed the cancellation of some flights, but added it is still flying to The Gambia on a reduced schedule. Quoting a spokesman for the company, the report added: “We’d like to apologise for the delay in making contact but we’re pleased we’ve been able to help find alternative travel arrangements.”

An IMF team led that visited Banjul from September 4 to 17 noted that The Gambia’s economy is vulnerable to contraction as a result of Ebola and poor precipitation. The report stated: “The Gambia remains Ebola-free but news from the sub-region appears to be deterring tourists and this will pose an additional challenge.  

Meanwhile, officials of the Gambia Tourism Board could not be reached for immediate comments on the Thomas Cook’s temporary suspension of flights to Banjul.

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