The tourism industry in Gambia is in its relative infancy
and the country is eager to avoid the errors of other,
older holiday resorts who
saw the negative effects of mass tourism. There are
a number of organisations
whose aims & objectives are to either secure equitable
treatment not only for those engaged in tourism but
are also concerned about the impacts on local society
in general & the environment.
Furthermore, they are eager that tourists give something
back to the community thus promoting fair, sustainable
and ethical tourism practices.
A holiday can be enjoyed while at the same time being
aware of what effects your actions are having around
you and acting like a responsible tourist.
In a poor developing country, like The Gambia, the unemployed
youth especially, become very vulnerable to exploitation
and inappropriate cultural practices brought about by
tourism development. Most hotel accommodation
and tourist facilities in The Gambia are situated on
the beachfront known as the Tourism
Development Area (TDA). Here on the beaches one
find hundreds of unemployed youngsters hassling tourists
or satisfying tourists desires from appeasing elderly
European ladies in their 60s to 70s, providing drugs,
or scouting for prostitutes to performing a more noble
task of guiding tourist
attractions. These youngsters mainly men will do
any thing to survive. They are generally referred to
as "beach boys", "professional Friends"
Measures you can take:
• Avoid using an air-conditioner as much as possible
and use a fan instead.
• Never leave
an A/C on when you are out.
• Use a
shower instead of a bath & avoid turning on or leaving
on hot water heaters.
• Take all rubbish
with you & don't litter.
• Buy only large bottles of drinking
water & use it all up before buying another.
• Try to visit at least one local attraction away
from the coastal areas such as Pirang
Forest. The farther away the better. They depend
on your cash.
• Never ever feed wild
animals & birds. They may lose fear of humans
& be killed later by poachers.
• When shopping
try buying from only small local
• Avoid using car transport where possible. If
you have to use one then share one with the locals.
Walk or use a bicycle
• Try eating out in small local restaurants
so your tourist money goes into the pockets of local
generously as many hotel workers are paid less than
£2 per day.
• Don't give money to children.
Give them books or pencils instead. This is because
when they take the money home some parents will encourage
them some more and they may become victims of child
• Show respect local culture
and sacred sites.
Learn something about their local greetings.
• Come on a flight only deal & stay only in
an independent hotel accommodation
that practices care for the environment. See top of
• Come only on a flight
that has a carbon-offset scheme.
• To conclude:
Your guiding ethical principle should be consider your
daily actions on the environment and people both physical
& cultural then act accordingly.
Gambia Tourism Concern, the main organisation
that publishes 'Concern Magazine', commissioned an in-flight
video with other UK based organisations like Voluntary
Service Overseas, (VSO), Tourism Concern and Association
Of British Travel Agents, (ABTA). The video is shown
on First Choice flights on Air 2000 to the Gambia and
it features advice for tourists about sensitive tourism
issues. By showing a short, entertaining in-flight video,
tour operators can encourage greater awareness among
tourists of the needs and wishes of people in The Gambia.
The hope is that the video will help tourists to be
more responsive to the local environment and its communities.
There is a publication called 'The Good Tourist' (€10
in EU) a Swedish publication who produce travel guides
for Fair Travel. They claim to offer more than the traditional
travel guides. Apart from the standard information about
accommodation, eating out,
local travel and crafts, food and transport, they try
to maintain a responsible vein throughout their guide
books by helping for example to preserve nature &
wildlife, protect local cultures as well as humans without
feeling deprived of a holiday experience.
There is an organisation called the Gambia
Tourist Support who offer special membership for
tourists which could save you money. Funds raised by
the organisation goes to helping locals to support their
is concerned that eco-tourism should mean tourist income
coming into The Gambia should help the local economy
and not be transferred back to the more developed countries
of the West.
What Does Responsible Tourism mean for Gambia?:
It is tourist activity which:
the negative social, environmental and economic effects
on The Gambia;
• creates economic benefits
for people in the host country and improves their well-being
by improving conditions at work and people's avenues
to the industry;
• diversifying the holiday
experience for tourists through more meaningful contact
with local communities, and to foster a greater understanding
of their cultural, society and environment;
• makes positive improvements to the preservation of
the Gambia's cultural and natural heritage;
• actively engaging local people in important decisions
that will impact on their lives and future prospects;
• affording greater access for disabled people
and other types of accommodation;
• is culturally sensitive, musters
respect and appreciation between guest visitors and
the host, and establishes local pride, self-reliance
Tourism is playing an increasingly important part in
the development of the sub-region, not only in economic
terms but also in the preservation of its rich cultural
heritage and our environment. To develop tourism and
indeed the whole economy along sustainable guidelines
there has to be consideration of socio-cultural, environmental
and economic principles.
Annual MBOKA Trade Fair:
The Mboka West African Travel Market is to be held every
It is a Business-to-Business event to be held in Banjul.
For more information contact: Musa Dem (MBOKA Fair Committee
Responsible business practice is good business and it
pays. It is a way of making business not "just
for the money" bottom line but also for taking
responsibility for the positive social and environmental
development of countries we operate in. This is why
ASSET (of The Gambia)
and ONITS (of Senegal), supported by tourism stakeholders
and the governments of The Gambia and Senegal, signed
an MOU in November 2006 to promote Responsible Tourism
Development in Senegal and The Gambia. The two associations
pledged to realise this by addressing the triple bottom
line of economic, social and environmental responsibility
and by engaging in product development and marketing.
Almost one year after signing the MOU in Dakar, Mboka
2007 helped make this pledge a reality by promoting
and showcasing the Senegambian tourism industry at a
fare first held in Dakar on the 31st October, 2007.
It now plans to make this an annual event, at around
the end of October each year, to an international audience
in the form of an annual fair to be held in Dakar. It
is hoped that this event will be an international and
sub-regional focal point for the world of tourism trade
The objectives of the event include showcasing a more
developed and diverse product in order to continue to
attract people from established tourist markets and
from new ones. The Mboka Fair Committee is aware that
tourists seek a variety of experiences and that the
traditional sun, sand and sea holiday market is increasingly
competitive and in relative decline. The Senegambian
region and its people have much to offer international
visitors and the organisers of Mboka want to grow the
industry in ways, which maximise the benefits (economic,
social and environmental) to the peoples of Senegambia.
It also involves displaying the cultural diversity of
both countries. It is important that along with colleagues
in the originating markets they can develop tourism
products which enable visitors to enjoy the cultural
diversity and to have positive interactions with local
communities, sharing something of our local living culture.
Thirdly the natural environment of The Gambia and Senegal
is an important resource for the tourism industry; it
is in the interest of the industry that it is conserved.
The tourism industry is also a major consumer of natural
resources and its environmental impacts need to be managed,
particularly where its impacts adversely affect other
stakeholders. This fair will be used to showcase environmental
Top priority will be given to small-scale tourism enterprises
operating in both countries, community based tourism
enterprises and other indigenous producers who would
like to establish links with the tourism industry for
the marketing of their products. Considerations will
also be given to other tourism enterprises that are
owned and run by indigenes of African countries.
• Partners and Sponsors:
Partners and sponsors are all advocates and practitioners
of Sustainable/Responsible business development in The
Gambia and Senegal in particular and Africa as a whole.
Sponsoring such an event is a way of putting your mark
in the development of a better Africa and also affirming
our belief that the destiny of a prosperous Africa lies
in our own hands.
• Activities Before and During the Fair:
In The Gambia there will be two pre-fair activities
in the form of a Craft competition organised by the
Product Development Committee of ASSET
to help raise the profile of innovative arts
& crafts for the Dakar fair and a workshop
on Responsible Tourism targeting all participants to
the Dakar Tourism fair.