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Gambia’s tourism struggles with impact of Covid-19 as it seeks to diversify

Tourist sit on a beach in the popular tourist area of Senegambia in Banjul on December 6, 2021. JOHN WESSELS / AFP   -  
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JOHN WESSELS/AFP or licensors

Gambia

This is not the usual scene here at this beach here in Gambia. Ideally, as the yuletide approaches the beach would be full of tourist but the story changed since the emergence of Covid 19.

In Banjul and elsewhere in the Gambia, the tourist season has been on since October but there is little or no signs of tourists here.

At Tamala, a four-star resort near Banjul, the restaurant is virtually empty an unusual scene during a tourist season.

We see a little bit of rebounding of tourism after Covid, but let's say, right now, it's somewhere around 25% of where we should be." Malleh Sallah, manager of Tamala beach hotel said

Though Covid 19 travelling restrictions has made travelling unattractive for many, this couple from Netherlands decided to while away some time here at this Gambian beach.

They are not alone, an Ivorian producer and his artist are also here to enjoy the breeze.

Gambian tourist and businessman, Adama Camara said «It's 15 minutes from my home. I am staying at Sukuta (neighbourhood near Banjul, ed) on the highway. It is different, you know. I am staying with my family, and then if you want to relax, you cannot relax in your family house, too much noise, kids… But here, you have your own room, you can relax, no disturbance."

In 2019, tourism contributed 30 percent to the country’s GDP but some international institutions pegged it at 20 percent.

Director of marketing for The Gambia's tourism board Adama Njie explained that "From our perspective, we shouldn’t be too over dependent on our source market. We were concentrating too much on the European market, neglecting our sub regional market. Moreover, we have learned that now we have to embrace our sub regional market... "

Tourist arrivals have fallen from more than 235,000 in 2019 to less than 90,000 in 2020, 19% of businesses have closed and after years of growth, The Gambia has suffered a recession, according to the International Monetary Fund.

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