Officials of The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) have received the first tourist flight at the Banjul International Airport, marking the beginning of the 2019-2020 tourist season. The maiden flight that brought 141 tourists from Holland were ferried onto the shores of the country by Corendon Tour Operators.
Speaking to the team of waiting journalists at the foot of the maiden flight, Abdoulie Hydara, Director General of Gambia Tourism Board, described the arrival of the 141 tourists into The Gambia as a very good start for the tourist season, adding the country is expecting to receive 51 flights per week as the 2019-2020 tourist season progresses.
“I can confirm that Corendon will be doing four flights per week plus other weekly flights by other operators. I can also authoritatively confirm that we (GTBoard) will be receiving 51 flights per week as far as the 2019-2020 tourist season is concerned,” said DG Hydara.
He disclosed that last year with the involvement of Thomas Cook Group the country receives 57 weekly flights from Europe, adding that efforts are on course to speedily fill the gap left by Thomas Cook through the engagement of other tour operators.
“We (GTBoard) are very optimistic at this point in time because we are hopeful we will soon confirm additional three flights that will obviously reduce the gap left by Thomas Cook Group. As of now we are not much concerned at the number of tourists’ flights, but the frequency of flights landing in the country,” DG Hydara disclosed.
According to him, it is not only the chartered flights that brings tourists into the country, but equally scheduled flights, adding that with the presence of SN Brussels, Arik, Royal Air Maroc, and Turkish Airlines among others, tourism is bound to stay attractive and booming in The Gambia.
The GTBoard Director General also confirmed that Gambia Experience, a leading tour operating company in the country has increased their number of flights to seven weekly flights. SN Brussels also joined the ranks with plans to increase their flight numbers to five, adding that Gambia may not experience a huge decrease in tourists as anticipated due largely to these interventions.
Lilian Sallah, Director at Africa Adventure Tours, responsible for Corendon Affairs in The Gambia discloses that Corendon will bring three flights per week as of this month and by November through the end of the season this figure will be increased to four flights per week, adding that Corendon will continue to work with Gambia tourism authorities in a bid to expand its shares of the Gambian market.
Sallah observes that Gambia tourism authorities must find the right balance between chartered flights and scheduled flights in a bid to minimize future damages, adding that with the right balance even if tour operators fail to bring in the tourists, scheduled flights can still be available at their disposal.
Sryianar is among the first batch of tourists to arrive in the country. Here with her family on holiday for one-week she tells Chronicle that this is her first time in the country and plans on making a series of visits to attraction sites available in the country.
“I am very happy to come here for holidays. I hope to enjoy the nice weather and my little ones are eager to see monkeys and birds available in the country. My friends told me this is a nice country for holidaying and we hope to have a very memorable stay so that we can continue to come here many more times,” Sryianar told Chronicle.