Thomas Cook’s Collapse Pressures Gambia’s Economic Future
- Thomas Cook accounted for a staggering 45 percent of tourists visiting Gambia
- The $1B West African economy heavily depends on tourism
In the wake of global vacation giant Thomas Cook’s declaration of bankruptcy, mainland Africa’s smallest country Gambia may be at an economic crossroad. Thomas Cook is the oldest and one of the most popular names in leisure travel with a track record of over 150 years, and had flown in British tourists to Gambia’s white-sand beaches for more than two decades. Gambia is still attempting to revive its economy after the end of a dictator’s two-decade rule through tourism, which represents nearly a third of its gross domestic product, and his how the majority of the locals make their money.
Why This Matters: The Gambian government is trying to mitigate potentially devastating economic effects, following Thomas Cook’s unsuccessful attempt to secure a bailout. One of the main things the country’s leader immediately set in place was an increase in the frequency of flights to Gambia by other carriers, as a direct measure to minimize the impact on the job and tourism market. Thomas Cook only operated flights to Gambia during the Winter Season, which accounts for a staggering 45 percent of tourists visiting the destination.
Gambia is still attempting to revive its economy after the end of a dictator’s two-decade rule through tourism, which represents nearly a third of its gross domestic product
The $1 billion West African economy heavily depends on tourism. Typically, Gambia receives around 30 percent of its tourists from the UK. Economic growth in the country slowed to 0.4 percent in 2016. The International Monetary Fund previously forecast GDP growth of 5.4 percent for this year, from 6.6 percent in 2018.
What’s Next: Thomas Cook’s collapse is being felt around the world, with tourists and destinations affected in North America, Europe, India and Africa. However, this couldn’t have come at a worse time for Gambia because it’s 6-month vacation season is set to start on Oct. 15 and runs until April.
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