Ethical & Responsible Tourism in Gambia
Ground Tour Operators
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.
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" or "bumsters".
Ethical Tourism Measures you can take:
• Avoid using an air-conditioner as much as possible and use a
• 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 shops.
• 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 proprietors
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 predators.
• 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
• Come only on a flight that has a carbon-offset scheme.
Your guiding ethical principle should be consider your daily actions
on the environment and people both physical & cultural then
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 families. GTS 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
What Does Responsible Tourism mean for Gambia?:
It is tourist activity which:
• minimizes 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 in hotels
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
Annual MBOKA Trade Fair:
The Mboka West
African Travel Market is to be held every October.
It is a Business-to-Business event to be held in Banjul.
For more information contact: Musa Dem (MBOKA Fair Committee Coordinator.)
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 fairs.
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
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
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 sustainability.
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
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
& crafts for the Dakar fair and a workshop on Responsible
Tourism targeting all participants to the Dakar Tourism fair.