By Momodou Jarju
The Government of The Gambia is calling for calm from Gambians and all holiday makers amid what it called the “devastating” news of a British Airline, Thomas Cook announcing its bankruptcy, a statement from the presidency said.
According to Business Insider on its online news site based in US, the 178-year-old British travel company and airline declared bankruptcy early Monday morning, suspending operations and leaving hundreds of thousands of tourists stranded around the world.
The statement from the presidency said in the wake of Thomas Cook’s bankruptcy, the Tourism and Culture Minister Hamat Bah has immediately summoned a meeting of stakeholders to seek actions to device a strategic response.
The stakeholders include the International Monetary Fund, the European Union, the World Bank and the Ministry of Finance.
“The Ministry of Tourism and Culture wishes to assure Gambians and our global friends that significant steps have been taken to mitigate the potentially devastating effects of this unfortunate situation on Gambian tourism, which is the heartbeat of our economy,” the statement said.
The statement said given the crucial role tourism plays in the Gambian economy, the Barrow-led Government is shocked and saddened by the devastating news of Thomas Cook’s collapse following an unsuccessful attempt to secure a bailout.
“The meeting came up with an Emergency Response Team which has already recommended a Strategy to immediately mitigate the shock on the job market and the impact on the overall economic situation of The Gambia,” the statement said.
The statement further said the Barrow Government is working with partners and has developed modalities to increase the frequency of flights to the country by other carriers as a direct measure to minimise the impact of Thomas Cook’s collapse on The Gambian tourism market.
“Thomas Cook, the oldest and one of the most popular names in leisure travel with a track record of over 150 years, flew in British tourists to The Gambia for over two memorable decades. Because The Gambia annually receives some 30% of its tourists from the UK, the company found it appealing and profitable to fly to the Destination. Although the Airline only operates in The Gambia during the Winter Season (6 months), it has contributed significantly in addressing our air access challenge and accounts for a staggering 45% of tourists visiting the Destination during the tourism season,” the statement said.
It added: “While the government of President Barrow recognises the worrying effects of Thomas Cook’s collapse, it however wishes to assure Gambians and the generality of holiday makers to the country that the situation is under total control and there is no need for alarm.”