By Bakary Ceesay
Rene Oude Groeniger, Purchasing Manager for Corendon International Travels, a leading Dutch Tour Operating Company in The Gambia has revealed that all winter flights to The Gambia are cancel.
He disclosed that Corendon is concern with the instability of the country relative to the upsurge of the Covid-19 cases in the country as well has the strict regulations put up by the government in their efforts to reignite the tourism industry back to normalcy.
Last year the Dutch Company brought four flights weekly into the country with an estimated figures close to fifteen thousand (15000) into the country from October until April.
The cancellations came barely one week when Gambia government announces reopening of the tourism industry that has been crippled by the global corona virus pandemic.
“It does not look good for winter to serve The Gambian Tourism Industry with client from Holland. And yes, indeed we pulled out of The Gambia because we need to plan in advance about our flight operation for Winter 2020-2021,” Rene Oude Groeniger, Purchasing Manager, Corendon International Travels, The Netherland.
He added: “We also noticed that the situation in The Gambia is also not stable at all. We have seen serious increases with Covid-19 cases in the last weeks, on top of it Gambian government requires 2 weeks quarantine and they also want to keep passport from clients which is not even normal.”
He disclosed to this medium that it will take 4-6 months before Corendon will be able to bring tourists into the country, bemoaning the destruction of another important tourist’s season for the country.
“So all the signs at the moment gives the indication that, with the best scenario it will take at least 4-6 months to bring back the clients to The Gambia. I am afraid that the important Winter Season will be completely destroyed I terms of arrivals,” Groeniger told journalists.
He said whereas The Gambia decides to open its borders for the upcoming tourist’s season, his company will still needs the approval of the Dutch government before it can start any form of operation in the country.
“It is important to know that Gambia might open the borders for his tourists but we (Corendon International Travels) will also need the approval from our own government to fly to The Gambia. This approval from Dutch government is very crucial for us, so it depends on both destinations whether they can operate or not,” he noted.
According to him, if the circumstances changes quickly than expected Corendon may also consider changing its plans and start operation immediately, adding that with the current situation ‘it looks like we need a miracle’.