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Statement by Hon Ebrima Sillah on the 4th edition of the Inter- Ministerial press conference

Ebrima Sillah
Minister of Communications

Welcome to the 4th edition of the Inter-Ministerial Press Conference coordinated by Ministry of Information & Communication Infrastructure (MOICI) through the office of the Government Spokesperson.

Due to the surge in COVID-19 figures in the county, this Ministry has taken measures to ensure the safety of journalists by adopting a remote approach to the weekly press briefing. Henceforth, the weekly press briefings will be held online until further notice.

Ministry of Tourism and Culture:
As part of efforts to revive The Gambia’s vibrant tourism industry, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has announced that it intends to open the 2020/2021 tourist season in October this year. The Gambia’s hospitality industry like in all other countries around the world, has been severely affected by the outbreak of the corona virus. The Ministry of Tourism working with critical stakeholders and the Ministry of Health, has put in place strict health and safety guidelines which is already shared with those in the leisure and hospitality industry particularly hotels and restaurants.

Similarly, The Gambia Tourism Board is continuing its activities in raising awareness on destination Gambia to potential travelers’ worldwide. The following activities are being implemented:
The Gambia Tourism Board in collaboration with tourism stakeholders, is working on the production of a Destination Video entitled: NICE TO BE SAFE. The reason for the production of this video is to build the confidence of tourists and visitors alike as the country gears up for the opening of the 2020/2021 season.

Airport preparedness: A team including Gambia Tourism Board (GTBOARD), Gambia Hotel Association (GHA) and Tourism and Travel Association of The Gambia (TTAG) have been visiting the Airport to ensure its readiness for the 2020/21 tourist season.

UNDP Support Fund for cash transfer to about 6,400 tourism industry staff and vendors is currently on the way and Africell is now disbursing the funds to beneficiaries.

ECO-LODGES: construction works on new Eco-lodges in Barra, Sotuma and Kunkiling are well on the way amidst a bit of slowing due to the new surge of Corona virus in the country.
The Ministry of Tourism and Culture has also indicated that several airlines will be bringing in tourists to The Gambia this year. For example, Gambia Experience plans to start operations on 29th September with 3 flights a week (2 from GATWICK with 300 seats and 1 from Manchester with 180 flight capacity.)

TUI UK is expected to be bringing in 2 flights a week from the UK with 210 seats.

TUI Holland will be flying in 3 Dreamliner flights per week to Banjul combined with Cape Verde.

Similarly TUI Belgium will be bringing 2 flights per week to Banjul combined with Cape Verde.

Brussels Airlines will also fly 3 flights per week for a start. This may increase in due course.

Nordic Leisure Travel Group will be flying in 1 flight per week with 322 seats

The Ministry of Tourism has also announced that two airlines will be flying in tourists from the Spanish market in the upcoming season. The airlines are:
Binta Canaries: which will be bringing in1 flight per week and Vueling Airline: which will also bring in 1 flight per week.

Tourists are also expected from the Portuguese market with TAP Airline doing 3 flights per week between Portugal and The Gambia. Rainbow Tours will also be doing 2 flights per week from Poland.

In the sub regional market, ASKY will also resume its Banjul route with 3 flights per week while Air Morocco will also be doing 3 flights per week

Ministry of Agriculture – Update on the just ended Tobaski Ram Sale by The Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency.

Despite the Covid – 19 pandemic and its attendant restrictions, The Gambia Livestock Marketing Agency has registered over 92, 000 rams sold to the general public this year. This figure does not include the unofficial selling points where rams were sold to unofficial vendors. This figure’s official figures surpassed those of last year when only 48,750 rams were sold at official selling points. The Ministry of Agriculture has announced that it is working with partners to empower local people to engage in breeding ruminants in the country as part of efforts to reduce poverty and to enhance the availability and affordability of rams to the general public.

Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources (MECCNAR)

The Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources recently launched a nationwide tree planting exercise with the aim of restoring degraded forest and agricultural landscapes with climate resilient plant species. The tree planting exercise is being spearheaded by Large Scale Eco System Based Adaptation Project EBA which is being implemented by the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources.

The Large Scale Eco System Based Adaptation (EbA) is a six-year project funded by Green Climate Fund (GCF.) The funding was secured by the United Nations Environmental Programme UNEP and implemented by the Ministry of Environment.
The EbA project is a flagship climate change project for The Gambia Government, which is committed in making sure that the country plants one million trees to tackle the effects of climate change. The Ministry of Environment has started the nationwide tree planting exercise targeting 250 farmers at various communities nationwide.

The GPA has validated the New Banjul Port Master Plan (2019-2038) which accompanies a Five-Year Business Plan (2019-2024.) The Port Master Plan sets to address the capacity needs of the Port of Banjul. This quest for port expansion is geared towards addressing efficiency issues as well as catering for anticipated growth in container traffic. The expansion will also increase the port’s capacity in the following;
• Rehabilitation and extension of the existing Container Jetty by 300+ meters to be able to berth up to 3 cellular vessels at a time.
• Basic yard extension which is meant to increase the storage capacity of containers.
• Computerization/Digitalization of Port Operations which will ensure high productivity at the quay side as well as efficiency in terminal operations.
• Acquisition of Modern Cargo Handling Equipment to enhance operations.
• Replacement of Banjul–Barra Ferry Landers – The Banjul–Barra Ferry landers have lived beyond their useful life and need replacement. The GPA Management has already signed a contract with Damen shipyard for its replacement. These works, when completed would significantly improve the ferry service delivery system for the general public.

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