By Momodou Jarju
The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat Bah, has recently informed lawmakers in Banjul that his ministry has laid out plans to put a perimeter fence around Fort Bullen to protect the site from trespassing.
“The perimeter fence is even more urgent and needs urgent action. The national center for arts and culture is finalizing a study on the cost and the nature of the perimeter fence for the site,” said Minister Bah.
Bah said the site was gazetted in 1995.
Fort Bullen, which is located at Barra, is a historical site that houses a museum and monument.
The site which was built by the British, who colonized The Gambia in early nineteenth century, was earmarked to intercept captured slaves amid the ban on slavery in West Africa.
In the early 1970s, it was declared a National Monument, and in 2003 UNESCO World Heritage Site was inscribed on the Six-Gun Battery in Banjul, My Gambia online website stated.
Study On Impact of All-Inclusive Tourism Package
Asked to inform the assembly whether any study has been carried out on the impact of the all-inclusive tourism package on local tourism or small scale operators, and if so, what are the results?
In his response, Minister Bah responded in the negative.
“I want to inform you that there has not been any study conducted to that effect,” Bah said.
Asked whether his ministry will be willing to conduct such an “important study,” Minister Bah said his ministry has plans to conduct a study as well as regulate all-inclusive so that it does not impact negatively on small scale dealers and operators within the tourism industry.
Asked how soon his ministry will commission the study, Minister Bah reiterated that all-inclusive is unavoidable but must be regulated in the country.
He said it is important as a government to make sure that they accept all-inclusive, but they must take into account also the impact it will have and the negative effects it will have on other operators taking into account 60% of the world booking is on all-inclusive today.
“If you dismiss all-inclusive, you kill your industry, but if you regulate it, you can manage it,” he said.
Speaking further, Bah said the Government will do all it takes to protect all stakeholders in the industry, whether it is all-inclusive package or whatever package it is.
He said they will ensure the national assembly is duly informed and duly consulted.
Minister Bah has also revealed that they are aware of the situation of the market women and taxi drivers in the tourism industry. He said they play an important role towards growth of the industry.
Bah said they are doing all it takes under the Gambia Tourism Board to engage them once the state of public emergency is over. He said already there are plans to build a market for the women to relocate to.