Your Excellency Sir,
Please be informed that the government’s policy is to promote tourism and its contribution to economic growth. Our objective as a country is to increase the contribution of tourism to our economy and to raise the living standards of all Gambians.
The Gambia belongs to Gambians both those home and abroad, therefore through dialogue, reasoning and critical thinking we can make The Gambia the last place of hope on earth.
Many Gambians depend on the tourism industry which is referred to as the backbone of the country. The industry contributes over 20% of our GDP, it offers lucrative employment both directly and indirectly, it provides much needed foreign exchange earnings and also contributes towards our yearly balance of payment. This sector has registered impressive growth of over 4.5 percent on average, thus encouraging the construction of more hotels and increase in the number of tourist arrivals.
The fact that the tourism industry is based on several sectors ensures that the development of the industry leads to huge transfer of development finance from foreign investors (Foreign Direct Investment). These funds are used to develop local infrastructure, such as road network s, telecommunication system, water supply as well as building super structures. This also greatly contributes to the GDP and generally advances the national economy. Tourism is at the heart of globalization as demonstrated by the increasing influence of international and multinational operators in the industry who are capable of moving significant volumes of investors. These companies engaged in extensive horizontal linkages.
Tourism promotes global understanding, peace and the sharing of values to both the host and the tourists themselves. In the Gambia for example, Europeans are married by Gambian and also some make friends to an extent that a deeper relation leading to assimilation and even resettlement may occur. This creates an environment of peace where people will not be discriminated base on the color of their skill or religion, etc. because of the degree of friendship created through tourism. This in will turn add to the global peace that we are all wanting for.
The Gambia tourism has successfully improved and developed but it is still facing some challenges beyond imagination which have greatly affected the safaris tours with in the country. These challenges include; Limited marketing due to insufficient funding as a serious problem facing the tourism industry and it has retarded many people internationally to know Gambia as a tourist destination hence affecting safari to the smiling coast.
High competition from neighboring countries like Senegal, Mali and Guinea Bissau. These countries are selling the same products like The Gambia and this has affected Gambia’s tourism sector since it’s considered a land locked country and most tourists go to the neighboring for leisure.
As I write to you this letter now, the minister responsible for tourism is not in town as he should be on the ground to work with the relevant stakeholders on how to formulate plans and strategies that will attract tourist across the globe. Since we are in the tourism season. The question one might asked will be is China a good market for The Gambia tourism industry?
However, the industry faces many challenges and as per the report by the online hotel booking website, these challenges need careful attention and properly structured solutions in order to provide good grounds for development.
It is that note I write to your high office requesting Hamat Bah, The Minister of Tourism to be redeployed To GTB as a Messenger. As the tourism sector is sinking like the great Titanic. Such an institution should be led by a person who have the experience, knowledge and know how to lead not only with words but with actions towards achieving the mission and vision statement of the noble ministry. The main hindrance to this is the fact that his limited understanding of the tourism industry is another major obstacle too.
Your Excellency, please be informed that there is absolutely no investor who will invest in an industry that has no previous track record of success or has no clear future. Every business person or entity will push money where they see viability or an opportunity for growth and development. This might make it difficult to find a clean pathway of these places and hence it is demotivating for tourists who may not return or even recommend the destination to family and friends and love ones.
The last time I checked on the minister’s expertise on tourism sector he was a mere entertainment manager. How can an entertainment manager have a fully understanding of the marketing strategies that can boost the tourism rate?
Part of his duties and responsibilities shall include but not limited to determine destinations by referring to addresses on packages and documents, ensure that packages or messages are delivered in a time efficient manner, ensure that the delivery is done in a timely manner, reconcile packages at recipient’s location, maintain records of daily visits in the log book, sort deliverable items in accordance to delivery route in order to ensure maximum efficiency, and perform general office or clerical work such as filing materials, operating duplicating machines, or running errands.
There are very few flights connecting to The Gambia. And not many of the very few are good enough, or at least meet international standards. We need to overhaul the entire air transport system within Gambia, and engender more airlines to fly within the smiling coast. The number of tourists visiting The Gambia every year runs into Thousands. Imagine how many more we will record if we can bring in more airlines to convey many more tourists to various destinations.
Finally, I would like to take this prospect opportunity to inform you that in order to make The Gambia great, employment should be based on merit. Therefore always give the job to the jobs friend but not your friend.
Saidina Alieu Jarjou