The Gambia targets Nigeria as it braces up for domestic and regional tourism
The Gambia is a very popular travel destination for many European visitors due its unique tourist attractions. However, the pandemic has decimated the tourism industry and The Gambia’s heavy reliance on international visitors aggravates the situation. But that’s about to change as the West African country rethinks its previous business practices and is now vying to attract tourists from other African countries.
For a start, The Gambia recently announced visa-free for all African countries and has equally sent a team of experts to Nigeria in its effort to tap into one of Africa’s biggest markets. The new realities caused by the pandemic has reshaped the way we think as Africans and The Gambia tourism board has realized that intensifying regional and domestic tourism can help formulate a new business model – one that’s sustainable and viable as well.
Given that tourism in The Gambia contributes 20 percent of GDP, and considering the devastating economic effects of Covid-19, it is a welcoming initiative to adopt Pan-African tourism. The free movement of people between colonial borders can rapidly enhance economic growth and also help connect Africans culturally. While hopes are glued to this new initiative, hotels in The Gambia had laid-off the majority of their work-force and among them is Senegambia Beach Resort; the five star hotel has terminated the services of many of its long-term staff.
Tourism is a huge source of income for major U.S cities such as New York and domestic travel constitutes a huge portion of such income. According to reports, US domestic travelers spent a total of $972 billion in 2019 and for such a huge sum, the U.S National Tourism Office encourages citizens to travel within the country. In contrast, many Africans spend their leisure holidays in Dubai and other European countries because little effort has been made to promote Pan-African tourism. Therefore, The Gambia following the footsteps of countries like Botswana in promoting domestic and regional tourism is commendable.
However, the Pan-African tourism will sail through heavy storms should African Governments fail to ease the restrictions of fellow Africans, making them undergo traumatizing experiences to regularize their stay. Meanwhile, all hope is not lost because Covid has taught us to love our neighbors and that’s the focus of every African tourism Minister.