By CultureBanx Team
- Thomas Cook relaunches exactly 12 months after its collapse
- 45% of Gambia tourists came in on Thomas Cook flights
Global vacation giant Thomas Cook is back in business again in the UK exactly 12 months after the 178-year-old travel company collapsed. The company had flown in British tourists to Gambia, Africa’s smallest country, and its white sand beaches for more than two decades. When Thomas Cook declared bankruptcy it left Gambia at an economic crossroad that given the current pandemic, and a slow return to leisure travel, could make it hard for the country to stabilize its economy.
Why This Matters: Thomas Cook is back with a “Covid-ready” website after its brand assets were bought for £11 million ($12.5 million) last November by Chinese conglomerate Fosun. For Gambia, a paradise that found a way to survive the collapse, it’s still attempting to revive the economy. After the end of a dictator’s two-decade rule through tourism, which represents nearly a third of its gross domestic product, and is how the majority of the locals make their money, the travel agency’s revival may be too late. However, Gambia did attract a record number of visitors last year, arrivals rose 13% to 235,788 in 2019.
Gambia did attract a record number of visitors last year, arrivals rose 13%
The $1 billion West African economy heavily depends on tourism. Typically, Gambia receives around 30% of its tourists from the UK, but after Thomas Cook went under arrivals from the UK dropped by 16% in 2019. Economic growth in the country had slowed to 0.4% in 2016, and the International Monetary Fund previously forecast GDP growth of 5.4% for this year, from 6.6% in 2018.
Thomas Cook only operated flights to Gambia during the Winter Season, which accounts for a staggering 45% of tourists visiting the destination. The Gambian government had been trying to mitigate potentially devastating economic effects following Thomas Cook’s collapse, by immediately setting in place an increase in the frequency of flights to the country by other carriers. They were able to increase tourism fourfold, due to a rise in visitors from Germany after tour operators added more flight
What’s Next: Fosun will invest an additional £6 million ($7.03 million) in the travel company. It wants to become a lifestyle platform which offers a range of related products and services, including hotels, tickets and entertainment. Gambia 6-month vacation season is set to start on October 15 and runs until April.
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