By Aja Dahaba
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture on Monday inaugurated National Access Air Committee at its conference hall in Banjul.
The committee is geared to put mechanism and ensured that tourist keep coming to the Gambian without depending on foreign tour operators.
Officials says it is important and vital to have air access in any destination and this having been lacking in the Gambian industry.
Sheikh Tijan Nyang said they have a government that is committed in reviewing the air access and they hope their recommendation from the exercise will be taking seriously.
He added that the country has been too dependent on package tour which is not good for the country hence tourism is the backbone of the country’s economy. He said they will put up a good document that will receive funding that they need to put the agenda forward.
Mr. Nyang highlighted that Gambia is not short of experts in this area noting is high time they use local brains to develop their sector. He said they need to be free from tour operator dependency and high time to look at other market avenue in other to create all year around job and to ensure government collects enough revenue.
Basiru Jawara member of the committee said the problem of tourism is not now and the government most involved in tourist.
He said Gambia has only 3 tour operators compared to about 30 years ago when there were 20 tour operators in the country.
He added that former government politicalizes the industry and for 22 years some hotels never have tourist which led to their bankruptcy.
Abdoulie Hydara Director General of tourism and the chairperson of the steering committee thank the Minister for the trust and confident bestowed on them and for coming up with Gambia air access after knowing how much the country depend on tourism.
He said the biggest challenge the industry have is air access and remedy this sector most act. He added that the committee will come out with a document that will be a government policy and be prepared the next level on strategies of how to exceed the policy.
DG Hydara said they will collide all the information they have put in a single document and advice the government the direction they need to take for them to have air access in the country and for implementation.
Amat Bah Minister of Tourism and Culture asserted that it is not a government led thing but stakeholders telling government what need to be done. He added that he have no doubt that the committee will leave up to expectations.
Minister Bah urged Gambians to embrace their own noting other countries relay on their own their tour operators and that have improved their sector. He said if this happens you can decide your own price and who you want to sell it to.
He said they are not fighting anyone but to create competition and to own their industry, he emphasized that as long you don’t have a national carrier your economic suffered.
Permanent Secretary Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs Modou Secka reaffirmed his ministries committee and support throughout the process.
By Aja Dahaba