By Fatou O. Barrow
As more tourists are expected to visit the Gambia, Officials of the Gambia tourism Board on Friday, 5 November, 2021 received another flight of tourists with One hundred and Eighty passengers (180) from United Kingdom.
The Tui flight which landed at night, flew directly from Gatwick, United Kingdom to destination Gambia with 180 passengers on board.
Receiving the Tourists at the foot of the Aeroplane, was the managing director of Gambia Tours, Gambian Tourism Board officials and officials of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCCA).
Speaking to journalists shortly after the landing of the aircraft, Managing Director of Gambia Tours, Charbel Hobeika, expressed his excitement on the arrival of the 180 tourists from United Kingdom after months of unstable business.
He said it has been a very difficult one year and eight months as the advent of the coronavirus in 2019 had greatly affected tourism in the Gambia. The closure of hotels, restaurants and evacuation of tourists in the country whilst the country was still in the midst of tourist season, negatively impacted the tourist industry
He further said that the tourism industry has started recovering from the loss caused by the pandemic and people have started booking for their holidays in the Gambia again.
There will be another flight on Sunday from Manchester, he said, which is coming with 184 passengers.
“They are looking into adding another two flights around Christmas from Gatwick and Manchester,” he added.
Mr. Hobeika said they are happy on the preparations made by the authorities in taking precautions for the safety of the tourists from Covid-19.
If you are vaccinated, he said, you can enter without a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test while those without vaccination are asked to do PCR test at the airport, adding it is a good move to keep everyone safe and protected.
He further said that most of the hotels are taking precautions of Covid -19 by checking the temperature of people, making use of hand sanitizers and face mask, and hopes that the restaurants are doing the same as well.
He also showed great concern over the slow speed in which the health personnel are working at.
“I think we can improve on the speed by adding one or two personnel from the ministry of health to help in taking the details of those that need to do the PCR test because there was a cue of tourist with only one person taking the details of the tourist who need to take the test,” he said.
If the process is improved, he said, it would help the passengers to go to their destinations early after long hours of flying.
The tourism industry contributes greatly in the economy of the Gambia, thus, the arrival of tourists in the country will boost the tourism sector and also create more job opportunities.