The Gambian tourism industry is bleeding as foreign visitors are put off by the negative and discriminate media reports on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
The country had already seen the number of visitors shrink, and the decline is expected to accelerate since there are only few tourist flights heading to the smiling coast. That would be a heavy blow to the economy.
Speaking to members of the National Assembly, Finance Minister Kebba Touray said: “The impressive growth in tourism in 2013 is being eclipsed by the negative international media publicity on the Ebola epidemic in some of the West African countries, resulting in some flight cancellations and low sales for the 2014/2015 winter season.”
According to him, Thomas Cook, one of the biggest tour operators in the country, reported a 51 percent decline in seat sales and a 52 percent drop in package sales.
Another tour operator, The Gambia Experience recorded over 200 cancellations while TUI and Correndon, known for bringing Dutch tourists, are down by 20 percent and 15 percent respectively.
Some hotels have already closed because of slow business.