By Makutu Manneh
The Director General of Gambia Tourism Board has on Tuesday decried the role the government plays in the tourism sector.
Abdoulie Hydara said: “The role the government plays in tourism is sometimes overboard. Tourism is everybody’s business. The government has no place in tourism as a business partner.”
The tourism director, who was speaking at the recently concluded TAF conference, justified his position by saying what the government should do is to create the enabling environment for the private sector to take ownership of the process and move forward.
He added: “If we forged partnership and become very strong partners, our partnership will drive the government to adapt to the policies that will drive our businesses, rather than we allow the government to set the policies and drive the agenda.’
He further said the stakeholders in tourism need to come together to identify how they can work together and bring in the businesses that are needed to develop the tourism industry.
Hydara lamented that some of the small scale enterprises operating in the tourism sector have not registered with the Association of Small Scale Enterprises.
“I can bet that fifty to 60% of these businesses have not been registered to be members of ASSET, so now operating as standalone individual businesses. Will our voices be heard by government?” he asked.
He proposed that it is better for the tour operators’ associations to come together as one body and identify their individual partners for their common good.
He spoke of the need for Gambian ground tour operators to come together and form one association in order for them to pursue their common interest. He said The Gambia tourism industry is dependent on foreign tour operators who come to Gambia, establish their businesses and form association ‘and take away all the foreign exchange that they have brought in back to their respective countries’.
He asked: “What do we get as a country? Absolutely almost nothing. Because we are not taking the opportunities that our country and economy is providing to us.”