Information reaching The Fatu Network has it that the government’s policy on the tourism sector known as “The all inclusive” is seriously affecting businesses at the industry.
According to sources, due to the said policy, tourists pay everything to hotels before their arrival including transport, craft materials, food and drinks amongst others.
It is said that 20% of The Gambia’s GDP comes from the tourism sector making it second to the agricultural sector which is said to be the economic backbone of the country.
“There is lot of redundancy in the tourism sector,” Baba Singhateh said.
Singhateh, a local hotel employee told The Fatu Network that majority of them are working on a six months contract basis after which they are asked to stay home untill the next season. He added that they stay home for six months without salary.
“The salary is very low. Many of us rely on tips from the tourists,” he added.
The young hotel employee complained bitterly about the behavior of some tour operators whom he accused of telling negative things to tourists about the country.
“The ‘all inclusive’ is killing the industry,” he told The Fatu Network.
He ridiculed the tourism minister’s claims of the all year round tourist season which he said was a failure, saying the industry has experienced the worst ever off season.
Over 90% of the hotels, restaurants and supermarkets at the tourism industry are at least owned and operated by foreign nationals which make them the biggest beneficiaries of the sector.
Sarja Krubally, President of the Brikama Craft Market also lamented that the ‘all inclusive’ is threatening their businesses.
“All inclusive is the biggest problem affecting our businesses. We want the government to help us,” Sarja said.
The President of the Brikama Craft Market told The Fatu Network that they are good citizens who want to contribute to the development plans of the country. He added that they want to have a dialogue with the government about their concerns.
According to him, there are seven craft markets in the country with hundreds of employees who are earning livelihoods to support their families. He said there are over sixty stores at Brikama Craft Market.
“The all inclusive only favours hotel owners because everything is included in the tickets of the tourists,” he lamented.
Ansumana Colley, a tourist taxi driver also explained the same challenges with the ‘all inclusive’ affecting their businesses. He said the hotels are offering everything to the tourists.
“We cannot even have trips anymore,” Colley told The Fatu Network.
The tourist driver said the hotels are arranging their own transports for trips within the country and outside the borders.
Meanwhile, the tourism minister could not be reached for comments but efforts are underway to meet him.