Tourist flights to The Gambia are being canceled, as the political stability of the West African nation known for its cheap holiday packages, remain uncertain.
The acting chairperson of the Gambia Hotel Association and general manager at one of the country’s leading hotels, Senegambia, said that they have had some tourists canceled their flights to Gambia because of the ongoing political crisis.
Although cancellations are in a few, Bunama Njie, head of the local hoteliers association said all hotels have been, however, affected.
Tourism is the second main contributor to Gambia’s Gross Domestic Product (20%) after agriculture and it had suffered a devastating shock due to the regional Ebola crisis, although The Gambia registered no cases.
“We are now engaging our partners to assure them that Gambia is still safe and shall continue to be safe as a tourism heaven despite a few hitches we are having,” Njie added.
The business community has already seen the “writings on the wall”, Njie said, which was why the hotel association has issued a statement demanding that Jammeh steps down.
“By this time you should have seen lots of tourists even outside the hotels here but that is not the case. Even the Christmas celebration this year was very boring,” Lamin Sonko, a security at Senegambia for over seven years said.
Muhammed Jagana, the President of the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industries said the business community in the country has already voiced it concerns to his trade union, which is the voice of private investors in the country.
The current impasse in The Gambia is challenging for our members, according to Jagana, who spoke to some of his union members from the banking and other industries.
The Chamber of Commerce did demand that President Yahya Jammeh steps down and allow a peaceful transfer of power.
The Chamber of Commerce could not quantify the level of the damages but said their members in the hotel industry reported plummeting sales.
Real estate developers also reported a decline in sales ahead after President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to step down. Realtors say the decline in tourist arrivals is a result because of fear that The Gambia was going into civil conflict is keeping them away, leaving their apartments unoccupied.
(Reporting and Writing by Mustapha Darboe; Reporting from Torch Gambia; Additional Writing and Editing by Sam Phatey)