The 2018/ 19 maiden tourists’ flight from Russia carrying 323 passengers on last Monday landed at the Banjul International Airport.
The Russian air bus- FTI was received on arrival by officials from the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, The Gambia Tourism Board and tour operators.
Shortly after the landing, Sutay Jawo, deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture said as the country ushered in the new tourists season, it is pleased to receive tourists from Russia.
Jawo described Russia as long standing friends of The Gambia, saying the arrivals of these tourists from Russian would go a long way in not only promoting tourism, but cementing bilateral ties on the international level.
DPS Jawo recalled that last year, the country received tourists from all corners of the globe, pointing out that they want to consolidate those gains in terms of arrival numbers.
Adama Njie, director of marketing at The Gambia Tourism Board, acknowledged that the airbus from Russia is the first flight of the season. The board, he said, has been promoting the country as tourist destination over the years.
“We have never had a direct flight from Russia and they’re going to operate three times in a month. So for us as a destination it means a lot and this is another step we are taking as far as Destination Gambia is concerned.”
Njie pointed out that the work of The Gambia Tourism Board is to promote The Gambia as a whole year round destination, noting that the problem they have with regard to other countries, is air access.
“Now the air access is here so we are ready to enter in another market.”
Also speaking, Lamin Manga, The Gambia’s honourary consular to Russia, said the Russian market has started the season this year and he is pleased to receive the tourists from Russia.
Manga recalled that in the past, few countries used to explore The Gambian market, adding that this is the first time that the country received a direct flight from Russian and bringing tourists in their numbers.
“We would like to thank the Ministry of Tourism and The Gambia Tourism Board for making this happened through FTI. When more tourists come to The Gambia, it will certainly open more opportunity for Gambians.”
He acknowledged the efforts of the tourism board over the years in their quest to tap the Russian market.
“They have made a lot of efforts even going as far as hiring PR companies to make sure that the Russians get to the Gambian market.”