By Ndey Sowe
The Gambia has on Wednesday, 9th December, 2020 received its first flight through The Gambia Experience for the winter tourism season 2020.
The flight came from the Unite Kingdom (UK) and landed in The Gambia at 3.00pm. There were one hundred and forty-seven (147) passengers onboard, including Gambians in the diaspora and repeated tourists coming into The Gambia.
Using a 180-seater A320 aircraft with Titan Airways, the weekly flight will depart Gatwick Airport every Wednesday at 8:30 hours and arrive in Banjul at 15.00 hours. The return flight will depart Banjul at 16.00 hours and arrive in the UK at 2355 hours.
A source from The Gambia Experience said they hope the weekly flight would continue for the rest of the winter tourist season.
However, the source said the passengers they must have in their possession, a negative Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result to travel from the UK, adding that a period of 14-days self-isolation is currently required after entry to the UK.
“I feel very excited to be home and I am just glad to be back,” Mariam, one of the passengers from London revealed.
Mariam intends to visit friends and promised to observe social distancing while she sees her stay.
Yankuba Gaye, also a passenger, expressed his delight to be back in The Gambia after eight (8) months since the start of the pandemic.
“I am really surprise to see that there are a lot of people onboard the flight to Gambia and there are lots of people in England who are waiting for this opportunity to come for holidays,” he said.
Gaye however advised all to adhere to the preventive measures in the country, which he noted ‘will be the only way to get the tourists to have the confidence that when they come to the Gambia, they will be safe.’
Oumie Cessay, Assistance Manager of Discovery Tours, said it is unprecedented to receive a maiden flight in December considering the Covid-19 pandemic is still alive.
“We are glad that finally, travelling confidence is improving,” she said.
Ceesay said the maiden flight is a small start but then “we will get there.” She said they provide representation for The Gambia Experience and not just for them but as a whole destination.
She shared her hope that with the introduction of the new vaccine couple of days ago, it will improve travelers’ confidence which will gradually increase the number of tourists.
Foday Bah, representing the Director of Marketing Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), said his institution has put plans in place to ensure they promote destination Gambia.
“We designed a new marketing strategy that can help us post Covid-19 to better market the destination, and we will focus more on online marketing,” he said.
Mr. Bah said the maiden flight is renewing hope because since the start of the pandemic, they were not expecting much. But they are now hopeful things will change for the better.
Ousman Kebbeh, who spoke on behalf of the Director General GTBoard, said they anticipate having a fruitful tourist season and the maiden flight is just the beginning.
“We are hopeful, but with the international travel regulations, I think working with the ministry of health is another plus. We are glad to support our stakeholders and we are hopeful that this is the beginning of a new collaboration that they are looking forward to,” he said.