Sunday, 28 December 2014

Ebola fears killing tourism in virus-free Gambia

A UNIVERSITY OF BRIGHTON tourism expert has urged holidaymakers to help save tourism in ebola-free countries in West Africa.

Dr Marina Novelli, Reader at the university’s School of Sport and Service Management, has returned with a party of students from the Gambia, which has no ebola and does not border countries which do. .

She says the outbreak had brought tourism in the Gambia to its knees and was threatening hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs. ‘I want to appeal to everyone to spread the word: this country is open for business and is not affected by the ebola outbreak – otherwise I would not have travelled there.

‘It broke our hearts seeing the industry on its knees, with staff being laid off as a result of tourists’ cancellations and tour operators reducing scheduled flights. This is due to ignorance about the geography of Africa and panic caused by misinformation. The Gambia is shielded within Senegal and both countries are ebola-free. What we witnessed in terms of economic downturn and the effect it is having on local people was very sad, especially since it is so unnecessary.

‘Ask yourself, if the ebola virus had spread to Italy, would people be frightened to travel to the nearby UK? Probably not.’

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