(JollofNews) – A British global travel company, Thomas Cook, is returning British holidaymakers from the Gambia following President Yahya Jammeh’s declaration of a state of emergency.

The company said it will operate a programme of additional flights into Banjul International Airport over the next 48 hours to bring the 985 UK customers it currently have on holiday in the Gambia home, including four additional flights on Wednesday 18 January.

“In addition, we have approximately 2,500 flight-only customers in Gambia, whom we are contacting to offer the earliest possible flight availability for return to the UK,” it added in a media statement.

“Our colleagues on the ground in Gambia will proactively contact all customers on holiday with us as soon as possible to prepare for return to the UK,” the statement continued.

The Gambia has always been a popular tourist destination for Britons. Tourism has been one of the most buoyant sectors of the economy, contributing 12 per cent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) while being a major foreign exchange earner and a healthy employment generator.

But tension is currently high in the small West African country after President Jammeh declared a state of emergency on his last day in power.

Mr Jammeh, 51, who has ruled the Gambia for 22 years is refusing to handover power after his defeat in last month’s election by opposition candidate Adama Barrow.

The regional group, Ecowas, which tried unsuccessfully to convince Mr Jammeh to handover power peacefully has warned of serious consequences if Mr Barrow’s is blocked on Thursday.

And as the deadline nears, Nigeria has deployed its newest warship, the NNS Unity, to the Gambia ahead of a planned military intervention to enforce the outcome of  the election results.