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An Increase in Tourism Revenue is Helping Gambia Boost Foreign-exchange Reserves

The number of visitors to the small West African nation jumped 56% to 182,795 last year, helping boost foreign-exchange reserves to $464 million this year, according to central bank Governor Buah Saidy. Imports surged about 90-fold to $53 million as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine led to an increase in the costs of petroleum products and cereals. The World Bank is helping Gambia with a $68 million program to boost tourism infrastructure over the next five years. Traditionally the majority of tourist arrivals have been from the UK.  Tourism is key for the nation, home to white sandy beaches along the Atlantic Ocean coast, as it recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Gambia is also seeking to ship more groundnuts, cashew and fish to China in a bid to boost export revenue, according to a government statement earlier this month. “During the fourth quarter onwards, the inflow of foreign currency was enhanced significantly,” Saidy said in an interview at an Association of African Central Banks conference in Senegal’s capital, Dakar. “There was a large recovery in tourism and remittances inflows were also sustained.”