Should I travel to The Gambia ?
After the recent political upheaval affecting this really well loved ‘winter sun’ destination.
Should holidaymakers start to return and indeed is it safe to do so?
Having been a very regular traveller to this part of West Africa for over 25 years on balance I would say a resounding yes!
Overall the country has been as safe, as pretty well anywhere else in the world can be called ‘safe’ these days.
Take the recent incident in Vienna, a place that I am a very regular visitor to. Only last week a terrorist plot was unearthed there, by Austria’s security services a place generally thought of as really very ‘safe’ located as it is in Central Europe.
As with any destination you have to be sensible about such risks from internal political strife or perhaps from outside the country like external terrorist risks.
In all the years of my travels in and also the bordering country of the The Gambia I have not experienced any major issues with its people or overall security issues.
However way back in the first days of the recent President’s surge to power there was an incident in the mid 1990’s and then apart from some road blocks on the route back to the airport there was not any indication to the tourists that anything was amiss!
Going forward with a brand new President the country at this stage in its new direction desperately needs tourism to return once again. With no income from the likes of minerals or oil the country and its financial well-being is very much dependent on its tourist trade, agriculture and fishing.
One way to help this struggling nation can certainly be to return to enjoy its hotels and holidaying haunts.
I often explain The Gambia in terms of tourism as ‘Easy Africa’. A destination where you can whet your appetite with an experience of Sub Saharan Africa before you head further south or east and the giant and more demanding countries of the likes of Nigeria or Kenya for instance.
For those that want to get a feel for the magic of the African continent it is in The Gambia where that taste can be fed first. Its people, its music its culture and the landscape is certainly something very different from a Northern European prospective, which is where most of its tourists come from.
Its here that this almost gentle introduction into African culture can be gained for the first time, if you have not experienced it anywhere else before.
THE GAMBIA ‘SMILING COAST’
Called the ‘Smiling Coast’ the warmth that tourist’s experience in The Gambia is certainly catching and repeat visits by tourists are really very high indeed.
Many who have experienced The Gambia return time and time again. I have known people who are on their 20th 30th or even 40th time in the country visiting not once but several times a year.
For some people that visit is alas just once! They cannot see past some aspects of the country that are so different to their ‘normal’ experience.
Poverty, health issues, modern facilities even roads can all be improved and one of those ways is by spending your tourist Dollar or Pound in the country at their café, shop or taxi, etc.
If you have recently heard about The Gambia for the first time but have been put off visiting by the recent political events.
Then don’t be.
You will certainly get an insight and experience into a country that needs a helping hand at this time. I cannot think of a better way or time to do just that than see if this coast can put a smile on your face.
Your effort will be appreciated for sure by the people of The Gambia!
Serenity Holidays who operate The Gambia Experience have passed on this advice from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office :
On January 23rd 2017 the FCO has lifted its restriction on all but essential travel to The Gambia.
Titan Airways will start its flights from the UK to The Gambia on Friday 27th January.