By Mariama Jobarteh.
Gambia’s Minister of Tourism and Culture, Honorable Hamat N.K. Bah has on Wednesday revealed that his ministry has planned to disburse D100 million dalasis geared towards supporting the hoteliers and institutions admist the Novel Coronavirus dubbed COVID-19 pandemic.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has suffocated the tourism industry, hence the need to support hoteliers and institutions under his purview.
He made these revelations at a press conference organised at the Gambia Tourism Hospitality Institute (GHTI) along the MD Road in Kanifing.
“We are the only ministry including the Ministry of Justice that has achieved all the MDG goals for a second year round. We wouldn’t have achieved that without the support of a very strong team that is resilient, that is willing and ready to move and get things moving. The money as we speak is now in your accounts; all of you and we will make sure that from tomorrow you start sending these people. I strongly believe that COVID-19 is here to stay, it is here to stay just like what cholera did in 1869,” he asserted.
He said, 413 Taxi drivers, 145 fruit sellers, 76 registered Hairdressers with GHTI, 96 Senegambia market vendors, 90 Kotu Market vendors, the Book Publishers Association, the Writers Association, Fajara Skills Training Centre, National Centre for Arts and Culture, etc, will benefit from this money.
The Tourism minister observed that the pandemic came unexpectedly and caused serious damages to the socio-economic and lives of the people. He advised that the money be used and spent wisely without any monopoly or unfair treatment.
“We realized that our stakeholders were having loans in the banks. They were having loans in the banks and of course many let me give you little bit of the background of these settings. The Government has spent over 60 million dalasis to some of these hotels during the period of COVID-19, because this was what we were using for quarantine centers,” Minister Bah remarked.
He said the tourism sector was said to be the hardest hit with arrivals set to decline by 28 percent including millions of lost revenue conniving with thousands of jobs lost.