By Lamin Njie

Some major tour operators have warned they could leave The Gambia if the government proceeds with its current plan to introduce new border control fees.

Leaked documents this week reveal the government is planning to collect $20 from each arriving or departing air passenger at the country’s international airport. The move will target all commercial flights and will come into force in January 2019.

The government says the move is to help ensure the safety of air transportation through the installation of an upgraded screening system at the airport.

Tour operators are calling the new fees ‘over and above already extremely high airport and aviation costs and fees that The Gambia levies.’

A source said: “One of the biggest tour operators has written to the government threatening to cancel its investments if the government proceeds with this plan. They want a guarantee that such or similar fees are not going to be imposed on their operation.”

The spokesperson of the government Ebrima Sankareh told TFN on Friday that the new border fees will be introduced.

“It’s a new government policy that tourists entering the country are obliged to pay 20 dollars,” he said.

Mr Sankareh said the new rule is non-discriminatory as it will affect “every person; tourist or not.”

“It will be embedded in the ticket. [Travelers] could opt to pay with the airline or take care of it at the airport before you can be allowed to enter,” he said.

He addded that “government signed a five-year contract with SECURIPORT and it’s this company that will administer the new policy.”