The Gambia government is facing backlash over new travel levy which imposes charges of US$20 (about D2,000) on air travellers.

A leaked letter from the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority addressed to airlines and travel companies in the country stated: 

“I am directed to inform you that The Gambia Government is implementing the collection of the Immigration Security System Levy at the Banjul International Airport with immediate effect. 

“Consequently collection booths have been erected at the airport to manually collect the levy from the passengers. Each departing passenger will pay US$20 whilst each arriving passenger will pay US$20.”

Many Gambians took to social media to criticise the government over the travel levy.

Nyang Njie, economist and political activist said: “The Government of the Gambia has in effect made Leopold Sedar Senghor our main Airport. There are many Gambians flying in and out of this airport due to the frequency of flights and ticket pricing.

“The recent tax levied on passengers at Banjul International Airport will be the beginning of the end for an airport that is neither competitive nor sustainable. Sad days ahead in Gambian aviation.”

Another Gambian Raffie Diab, also a political activist and businessman, said: “This is so outrageous to see. I really don’t see the rationale behind this daft idea. Now is not the time to be increasing taxes on travellers when we looking to revive the airline and tourism industry. This means a family of four coming into The Gambia will have to pay an extra $160 on their holiday bill.”

Musa Jaiteh said “We will advice people to come through Senegal. Gambia Government is a total waste, this is not the proper way to earn revenue. I never see a  fail and confuse Government like Barrow’s. In fact refusing to pay this tax what’s going to happen next.”

Fab Ceesay on the other hand welcomes the new levy. He said “well if they will use the money to upgrade our tourist development area with modern slabs and better drainage system, at least we can have a city centre. But I don’t think manual collection should be the way.”

The Gambia government and GCAA have been contacted for comments. 

Reporting by Adama Makasuba

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