By: Modou Touray
Liliane Sallah, the ground handler for Corendon flights and owner of African Adventure Tours, have disclosed to journalists that the strict COVID-19 protocols still being observed at the Banjul International Airport could trigger change of destination by tourists if not reviewed. She pointed out that many tourists don’t prefer traveling with COVID vaccination and test documents anymore. She further said no other chartered destinations with large number of tourists is observing strict protocols.
“The only problem we have now is COVID measures the Gambia has been implementing since January. That needs to stop. All the other destinations, like Senegal and Cape Verde, tourists don’t need to present this anymore,” She said.
Liane Sallah warned that these countries are competitors with the Gambia and if the measures are not revisited it might reflect on the number of arrivals.
“If they want to have more tourists, COVID test results and vaccination record requirements should be ignored. In October, we have one flight, two in November. If there had been no obstacle with regards COVID-19 issues, we would have increased the number to three.”
Corendon is the second flight of the 2022/23 tourists season which landed at the Banjul International Airport about 1am on Monday with 127 tourists onboard. This is after the arrival of Gambia Experience’s flight from London Gatwick on Friday.
She noted that they often combine tourists’ flights with Cape Verde, but that this year, they instead decided to come with a full flight.
“The tourists season last year was horrible; it was a very bad season. COVID 19 adversely affected the tourism sector in the Gambia. We are starting from scratch.”
Despite the many challenges, Liane Sallah said she has been working with Correndum as the ground handler for almost 10 years, saying that their service is impressive. “We are going quite well and we are committed to Gambia,” she continued.
As ground handler, her terms of reference includes facilitating the arrival of tourists by picking them from the airport upon arrival, taking them to their hotels and ensuring that hotel reservations are made accordingly.
“We sensor the reservations and make sure that rooms are booked. We are communicating with all the hotels. We take care of them if there is any problem or if they have a question.”
The ground handler also organises tourists visit around the country which includes boat trips and visit to historical sites in a bid to know the country and interact with local inhabitants to know their culture and traditions.
Arrivals for the 2022/23 tourist season begins with hope and high expectations that the status quo might change following previous poor performance due to COVID lockdown. This resulted to lost of jobs and income as well as flights arrivals.