Friday, December 9

Gambia Must Critically Address Menace of Bumstering – TTAG President

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By Kebba Ansu Manneh

Kebba Macumba Njie, Executive Secretary, the Tourism and Travel Association of the Gambia (TTAG) who doubles as the President of the Tourism Federation of the Gambia (TFG) has called on both government and stakeholders of the tourism industry to critically look into the issue of ‘bumstering,’ noting that there are incidences where Bumsters harass tourists and this is portraying bad impression and image of the country outside.

He made this observation barely two months after the official opening of the 2022/2023 winter tourism season, revealing that the major challenges confronting the tourism industry are the issue of sales tax and municipality tax imposed on operators.

The Executive Secretary of the Tourism and Travel Association of the Gambia, who recently returned from Cape Verde, said government and stakeholders must critically look into the issue of ‘Bumsters’ in a bit to make the country safer and more convincing to tourists wanting to visit.

According to him, a lot of incidences that involve harassment of tourists by bumsters have been reported and this portrays a bad image of the destination to tourists and visitors alike. He said stakeholders must come together to arrest the ‘Bumsters’ situation in Gambia’s tourism industry by creating employment opportunities for the teeming numbers as a means to arrest the situation.

“It is high time we address the issue of bumstering in our destination it is not giving us the good name we deserve. I strongly believe we can arrest the issue through government and stakeholders operating in the industry by way of creating jobs for the young people venturing into the trade,” Kebba Macouba Njie President Tourism and Travel Association of the Gambia appealed.

He added: “I have recently visited Cape Verde and what was so amazing about that country is they don’t have a problem of bumsters, there are no bumsters in that country that allows tourists to work freely anytime they wish either day or night time. I think Gambia can learn from the success stories of this country when it comes to the issue of Bumstering because this is an issue confronting our industry.”

According to him, the surest way of overcoming the menace of Bumstering in Gambia’s tourism industry is through collaboration between the government and all stakeholders. He said the collaboration will be important as tourists hardly visit destinations where they are continuously harassed, defraud, or physically abused or where their free movement is restricted due to the presence of Bumsters.

He continued to disclose in this exclusive interview that government must also critically look into the issues of sales tax and municipality tax imposed on hotels and other tourism establishments, arguing that heavy sales tax and Municipality tax will greatly undermine the recovery process of operators amidst the prevailing global economic crisis.

“The major challenges facing most operators in the tourism industry are the issue of high sales tax and Municipality tax imposed by the government and the Local Councils.

Knowing that most of the operators are in distress Financial situations, we believe the sales and Municipality taxes should be reduced the recovery processes and the full flown operation of the industry can be achieved,” President TTAG appealed.

He added: “We appreciate all the support rendered by the government in supporting the small and medium enterprises in the industry but still the industry needs more support and investment on the part of the government.

“The sales tax and Municipality tax must be looked into, the $20 Airport Security Levy must be looked into as well as the issue of debt servicing of operators to the banks, if we are to be optimistic of a positive tourism season.”

He admitted the difficult situation banks are equally going through amidst the global economic situation, observing that this is why the government needs to come out and broker a deal that will allow the smooth operation of hotels and restaurants, while also allowing the servicing of their debt obligations to the banks.

According to him, covid-19 has virtually destroyed the financial muscles of most hotels and restaurants making it impossible for them to start full-scale operations, arguing that most tourism establishments are finding it even harder to take care of their overheads that include payments of staff salaries, utility bills among other daily operational costs.