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Ethical & Responsible Tourism in Gambia
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Abuko Nature ReserveThe 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" or "bumsters".

Ethical Tourism 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 shops.

Avoid using car transport where possible. If you have to use one then share one with the locals. Walk or use a bicycle instead.

Try eating out in small local restaurants so your tourist money goes into the pockets of local proprietors instead.

Tip 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 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 of page

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 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 the West.

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; and finally

is culturally sensitive, musters respect and appreciation between guest visitors and the host, and establishes local pride, self-reliance and assurance.

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 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 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 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 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.

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