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Bumsters in Gambia
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Bumster Definition:
The word is thought to have its origins from the English word for bum which means a beggar, tramp or layabout. Bumsters in Gambia are mostly harmless, unemployed young men who try to hassle and hustle tourists into giving them their money or some other benefit. However, all age groups are represented here and the older bunch tend to operate more subtly on you. Many will profess to want to work but the fact is most are school dropouts who have observed that bumsterism pays more handsomely than gainful employment.

Not all Bad:
The vast majority of Gambian youths are genuinely friendly and very polite to visitors, so don't assume everyone is a chancer or con artist. Most youths in this country do Senegambia areanot engage in this activity as it is generally frowned upon by society. Bumsters are in a minority and have their hang out spots in the tourist resorts.

Not all bumsters are bad people. Most are just chancers and fixers hoping to get a little cash out of you during your stay. Occasionally genuine relationships can be nurtured over the years to the benefit of both and furthermore there are those who can be quite helpful and knowledgeable about the locality and can help you out of some sticky situations. The key is just be on your guard at all times.

Quick Identification:
They tend to wear brightly coloured sports vests, t-shirts or the Rasta colours of green, yellow and red and can be found idly hanging around outside hotels or on the beaches. They sometimes stand in a group waiting to move in on their unwary tourist target. At other times they appear to wonder aimlessly up and down the road looking into the horizon for their opportunity to pounce on their next victim.

Kinds of Bumsters:
Got any spare change?
The first kind of scrounger is the most common and can be found in the Senegambia Strip, Kololi, Kotu, Bakau and other resort areas. They will simply ask your name introduce themselves and finally ask you for money because of one reason or another. The usual being "I am hungry and have not had anything to eat all day."

"Let me help you, no problem"
The second type should cause you a little more concern. They will befriend you until you are on first name terms with them and you let your guard down. They will offer to either take you to excursions, solve a small problem, haggle on your behalf, offer 'free' local advice. At the end of the day they expect to be rewarded for their 'services' in the form of either cash, a meal, drinks and any other gift.

"But he's a Friend now"
The third type is even more serious as he would have evolved from the second type. Towards the end of your holiday you may think: "This chap seems particularly nice and has been so helpful". Do not let your guard down as he will normally not show any hesitation or mercy to con and trick you before you go. If they haven't done so during your stay they will want to swap contact details on your departure and will surely write to you hoping for a reply. Any reply from you will be followed-up with a hard-luck story hoping you will start to send cash to them by money transfer or gifts by post. Should you return to Gambia regularly then their demands may increase further moving onto requests for a car, a plot of land, loan for a 'business' or even a house! It has been known to happen so be cautious. If you are of the opposite gender he will try to form an emotional relationship with you hoping to get a fast track exit from the country known locally as  "Dem Out".

Mr. Lover Man
He usually prowls the tourist areas looking specifically for lonely, elderly or middle aged white women. Some can be found on the beach exposing their physical prowess hoping-on-hope to find a 'love' connection. He is essentially a beach bum or gigolo who has just two aims. The first is financial / gifts either now or when you get back home. The second is a one-way air ticket out of the Gambia preferably through first marrying you. He will swear he 'loves' you and that you are so 'beautiful' but once he's arrived in Europe his behaviour will normally change as he settles in and gets his residency papers.  From then on he is looking for an ideal opportunity to bolt!

How to Avoid Bumsters While on Vacation:
While on holiday in Gambia if one first approaches you outside your hotel trying to know your name and offers his hand in 'friendship' firmly, but politely, reject their advances. Don't feel obliged to answer as it is this particular weakness on your side not to cause offence that the bumster is looking out for. Many can be very charming and persuasive so be firm and reject their 'services'. If they are really getting on your nerves let them know that you are considering reporting them to the tourist police. This usually works as they are usually sent to spend the evening in detention followed by a day of community service in the hot sun.

Common Introduction Tricks:
The simplest introduction line is "How are you, I hope you are enjoying your holiday?" or a bit of cockney slang aimed at male tourists which is "Right mate?" translated to: "Are you alright mate?"

Some more cunning operators will say to you "welcome back, it's good to see you again this year" even though this could be your first time in The Gambia. All this is a ruse to spark off conversation to gain your trust or familiarity.

Another technique is to ask you "is this your first time to Gambia?", just brush them off with a simple "I'm not interested thanks". If you have to say something just reply "no, it's my fifth time in The Gambia and I'm not interested".

Official Action:
The Government has taken the threat posed by the bumsterism problem on the Gambia's tourism industry very seriously. They have set up the Tourism Security Unit to crack down on the phenomenon. The unit can be found doing their rounds in the main tourist resorts on a regular basis rounding up persistent miscreants. Furthermore, they have set up the The Tourist Guides Training School to find proper, gainful employment for some these young men. Tourism studies has also been introduced in schools to emphasise how important it is as a foreign exchange earner to the country.

If you do want guided tours then try
the Gambia Tour Guides Association on:
Tel:  +220 4391097, Mob: 9903347
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