A change in FCDO advice has left thousands of Brits being evacuated, while on holiday in The Gambia.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office changed its advice to ‘advise against all travel’ to the city of Banjul, and ‘advise against all but essential travel’ to the rest of the country.
The updated advice comes following the Presidential elections in The Gambia at the beginning of December, causing political unrest.
The FCDO stated: “The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advise against all travel to the city of Banjul. This is the area on Banjul Island and State House, a potential flashpoint in the event of military intervention. This is well away from the tourist areas.
“The FCDO also advise against all but essential travel to The Gambia as a whole (including Banjul airport) due to ongoing political uncertainty and potential military intervention following the Presidential elections on 1 December 2016. If you’re currently in The Gambia you should leave by commercial means if you have no essential need to remain. Contact your airline or travel company for more information about departure options.”
Travel company, Thomas Cook, have begun flying its customer’s home.
By the end of today (20th January), the travel company expect to have flown 3,500 Brits home across a total of 16 flights.
Posting on their latest travel updates page last night, Thomas Cook said: “The UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) has changed its advice on travel to the Gambia to advise against all but essential travel. This is based upon the risk of unrest in the country as a result of the disputed presidential inauguration on 19 January.
“Based upon the number of customers which remain in the Gambia, we are now planning for our final repatriation flights to depart tomorrow, Friday 20th January. In total, six flights are due to depart for the UK from Banjul Airport tomorrow.
“Over the three days of repatriation flights, we have had seat capacity for all of our customers in the Gambia, and we continue to allocate seats to ensure all of the customers who want to return to the UK are able to do so.
“Our flight programme to the Gambia is currently cancelled up until the 31st January. However, the resumption of flights after this date is dependent upon a change to the Foreign Office advice.
“Our reps in resort have been in constant contact with our package holiday customers in their hotels and our teams have been proactively contacting our flight-only passengers via email, phone and text throughout today to prepare for return to the UK.
For holidays to Gambia up to and including 31 January, Thomas Cook are allowing customers to make amendments or cancellations free of charge.
More information on the Thomas Cook travel update here, along with contact details for customers currently in the Gambia, or customers who are supposed to be flying there over the coming days.
Don’t forget, you can get your travel insurance from Direct Travel at either www.direct-travel.co.uk or ring our friendly UK based travel team on 0330 880 3600.