Since the 1990s, The Gambia has become a preferred destination for European women seeking sexual pleasure with available African boys. It all started when international travel agencies from the UK launched cheap travel packages to this small West African country. After more than 30 years of receiving thousands of middle-aged women who arrived with the intention of sex tourism, the Gambian government has had enough of these British women. Now the former British colony is looking to attract “quality” visitors as this tiny African nation strives to change its reputation as a sex tourism destination.
“What we want are quality tourists. Tourists who come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists who come just for the sex”, Abubacarr Camara, the director of the Gambia Tourism Board said The Sun United Kingdom this month.
With high unemployment rates and low wages in The Gambia, which has a population of 2.5 million, a relationship with a wealthy western mature woman is seen as a financial opportunity for these young men.
Known as ‘bumsters’, a term used to describe poor young Gambian men who target Western women, they can arrange their relationships with mature women online. Others scour the white sand beaches in search of older women who also come from Holland, Sweden and Germany to meet them. As The Sun reported, the ‘Senegambia Strip’ near the capital, Banjul, has become a hub for lonely British pensioners.
The Gambian government has sought to focus on Gambia’s wildlife and cultural attractions – the country has more than 300 species of tropical birds and two Unesco World Heritage sites – to boost its “quality” tourism. However, Lamin Fatty, national coordinator of the Child Protection Alliance, told The The telegraph of the day: ‘The High Commission has shown a certain commitment. But it’s not just about commitment, we also need financial and technical assistance.
This summer, Gambian tourism officials traveled to the UK. They have met with British Airways and tour operators in a bid to increase flights between London and Banjul and attract younger, wealthier tourists seeking a higher quality winter holiday.
Tourism is the fastest growing sector of the Gambian economy and accounts for around 20% of GDP.