Monday, 18 September 2017
Open Letter To Hon. Hamat Bah,The Minister of Tourism and Culture!
I was very happy to have you as our Minister of Tourism and Culture, especially when your portfolio became a committed one. However, I sense that our tourism sector is sinking and plummeting like the great Titanic, and your ministry are seeing the development of a catastrophe in our tourism industry, but that nothing is being done about it as if there is no ministry in charge of such an important sector.
In another note I learnt with dismay, disappointment that upon the completion of your pilgrimage from the holy land of Mecca you proceeded to China for reasons best known to you.
The question one may asked will be is China the major market for The Gambia tourism industry?
Hon. Your actions shows a clear testimony as far beyond Pluto that you lack the knowledge, skills and the know how to lead this auspicious ministry not only with words but with actions. Since we are in the tourism season, it will be better for you and your administration to formulate strategies, plans that will increase and boost the number of tourist’s rate annually. The last time I checked your expertise on tourism you were an entertainment manager in one of the local hotels.
In 2016 tourism contributed immensely 21.9 % in to our GDP. Therefore as a Minister you should tasked and asked yourself how to double the 21.9% at the end of 2017 tourism season.
Please be reminded that The Gambia's tourism industry receives over 100,000 visitors a year and is the second highest earner of foreign revenue. Tourists mainly come from Europe with package tour operators from UK making up over 50% of visitors. The remaining number of visitors arriving from Germany, Norway, Sweden & other countries. It is estimated that around 44 per cent of high season (winter) tourists are repeat visitors to the Gambia and Banjul.
The Gambia tourism industry is ranked 168 in the world in terms of absolute size according to the World Travel & Tourism Council, 122 in long-term growth measured over 10 years and 38 in its relative contribution to other nation's economies.
I remember a song Jeremy Taylor once sang about the Ministers that ‘minis’ – I feel that you and your ministry are ‘minis-ing’, not playing open book with us, and that you are deserting us in our time of need. Here is why: All we hear from you is that you are travelling or travelled like a vulture without a home.
From your own words “I can assure you that other members of the coalition are all action-oriented; and you the people gave us the power to serve you and you have the right to know and to find out what is happening in every ministry, and in every department of government.” (Hamat Bah, the point February 08, 2017).
Hon. As per your above quote I submit to you that The Gambia tourism sector is the least performing ministry and the tourism contribution to the GDP is expected to fall drastically by the end of 2017.
Hon. When shall your unnecessary travels at the burden of the poor tax payer’s end? The amount of money spent on your travels and Per Diem could have been utilized well to boost the tourism industry to meet the international market.
This is not the new Gambia we dream neither The Gambia we want to see where minister’s main duties and responsibilities are needless traveling’s at the expense of the poor.
Enough is enough we The Gambian youth will not give a deaf ear to any Minister to ruing our future. Your failure is ours as it can have a great impact in our lives in the feature. If you cannot run the ministry as expected I will advised you to kindly submit your resignation letter as soon as possible to minimize defect.
As the most senior official driving tourism in our country, we would have expected that you would guide and lead us, that you would tell us what drastic steps your ministry and stakeholders are taking to help us to get international tourists to our country, and local ones to our cities and provinces.
I am not sure how enough local and international marketing is being done, especially in the newly opened markets. Also we are receiving no guidance from your Ministry, and our local tourism authorities about how we keep our businesses afloat, and how we prevent a bloodbath of restaurant, hotel and guest house closures in the next few months, which has already started.
Please open the doors, and create dialogue between the different sectors that feed and sustain the tourism industry. As Minister of Tourism and Culture, you should support festivals and events that will build a strong economy and vibrant communities, attract tourists and contribute to job creation especially to the youth. And continue to measure the contributions of these events and festivals and ensure that all decisions relating to them are supported by sound economic analysis.
I ask that you continue to work with stakeholders to build on the Entertainment and Creative Cluster strategy and develop an Arts Policy Framework. The Framework should help maximize the economic benefits of arts and culture to individuals and communities. In addition, I ask that you work with The Gambia Tourism Board (GTB), educators and communities to develop a Gambia Culture Strategy Plan, so that we are better able to tell our stories and help a new generation tap their artistic potential. Continuing to work with the tourism industry and regional tourism organizations to support the sector’s economic growth and encourage collaboration among tourism industry partners.
I look forward to working together with you in building opportunity today, and securing the future for all Gambians.
Saidina Alieu Jarjou