The Gambia


The Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland, is almost an enclave of Senegal, occupying the flood plain of the Gambia River, and surrounding hills. The climate is tropical with a hot rainy season (June to November), and a cooler dry season (November to May). Environmental issues in The Gambia include deforestation due to slash-and-burn agriculture, desertification, water pollution, and water-borne diseases. 

The Department of Parks and Wildlife Management operates under the Gambian Ministry of Environment Climate Change & Natural ResourcesThere are 12 protected areas listed for The Gambia, including 3 national parks, 2 nature reserves (Abuko Nature Reserve, Abuko Buffer), 1 wetland reserve (Bao Bolong Wetland Reserve), 1 wetlands complex (Tanbi Wetland Complex), 1 bird reserve (Tanji Bird Reserve), 1 community wildlife reserve (Gunjur), and 3 Ramsar wetlands of international importance (Bao Bolong, Niumi and Tanbi). In 2017, the National Environment Agency was spearheading remediation of serious pollution of the Gunjur community wildlife reserve, due to nearby Chinese development.

National Parks:


Settlements are scattered along the Gambia River. The largest communities, including the capital of Banjul, and the country’s largest city, Serekunda, are found at the mouth of the Gambia River on the Atlantic coast. The Gambia gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1965. Geographically surrounded by Senegal, the Gambia formed a short-lived Confederation of Senegambia in the 1980s. After 22 years of authoritarian rule the president, Yahya Jammeh, was defeated in free and fair elections in 2016. 

As of 2018, The Gambia was included with 33 African countries on the United Nations list of Least Developed Countries. Development of The Gambia as a popular winter sun destination for European mass tourism began in 1965; however, the military coup of 1994 destroyed this momentum, and that growth has never really recovered since. ASSET-GAMBIA is the “Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism”, founded in 2000 to promote grassroots tourism development. The International Centre for Responsible Tourism – West Africa began life as “ICRT – The Gambia”, co-founded by prominent Gambian tourism activist, Adama Bah. The Gambia Tourism Board operates the official tourism website at

There are a number of villages being targeted for tourism development in The Gambia, such as the coastal villages of Kartung and Tanji. Also there have been a number of interesting tourist lodges developed, often in conjunction with nearby protected areas, such as Footsteps Eco-Lodge, The Gunjur Project LodgeMandina Lodges, and Tumani Tenda Eco-tourism CampSukuta Camping & Lodge is particularly interesting as a principle crossroads for overlanders moving north and south across Africa.

Historically, the Gambia River figured prominently in the Atlantic slave trade, and was popularized in the 1960s by African American writer Alex Haley, who identified the village of Jufureh as the place where his ancestor Kunta Kinte was kidnapped into the slave trade. The Gambian National Center for Arts and Culture has been instrumental in the restoration of what is now known as Kunta Kinteh Island, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Still today, The Gambia has an international reputation as a hotspot for sex tourism, in particular female sex tourism, or in other words primarily older European women looking to pick up younger Gambian men. Apparently, this trade is centred around the coastal resort town of Kololi. The touts or intermediaries are known as “bumsters”, and the activity is called “bumsing”.

Cultural World Heritage:


  • Bumsters are part of the socio-cultural, human capital of Destination Gambia – Y Drammeh – 2018
  • Let’s Talk About Sex: Female Sex Tourism in The Gambia – J Fitzsimons – 2018
  • Coastal ecotourism in The Gambia: Effects of sustainability communication on environments and rural livelihoods – P Attemene, I Eguavoen – 2017
  • How Gambia plans to shed its sleazy reputation – G Haines – 2017
  • Should sex tourism be viewed as a threat for future development?: A perspective that explores the general approach of sex tourism and prostitution in the tourism industry based on historical, cultural, and traditional values in The Gambia – L Jonsson, M Nilsson – 2016
  • Foreign direct investment in tourism, poverty alleviation, and sustainable development: a review of the Gambian hotel sector – L Davidson, M Sahli – 2015
  • Segmentation by motivation for rural tourism activities in The Gambia – W Rid, IO Ezeuduji, U Pröbstl-Haider – 2014
  • The Gambia’s “Roots”: When Good Intentions Lead to Bad Tourism – J Fitzsimons – 2014
  • The perceptions of managers of SMEs on sustainable tourism development in least developed countries (LDCs), using The Gambia as a case study – F Drammeh – 2014
  • Picturing tourism: Conceptualizing the Gambian host gaze through photographs – H Pattison – 2013
  • A socio-ecological assessment aiming at improved forest resource management and sustainable ecotourism development in the mangroves of Tanbi Wetland National Park, The Gambia, West Africa – B Satyanarayana, P Bhanderi, M Debry, D Maniatis… – 2012
  • Host–guest encounters in a Gambian ‘love’ bubble – L McCombes – 2012
  • It’s Nice to be Nice: Tourism Discourse and Post Colonial Identities in The Gambia – F Uggla – 2012
  • Becoming a ‘host’ in postcolonial global tourism industry: an engagement with the voices of the Gambian ‘hosts’ – HE Pattison – 2011
  • Competing narratives: tensions between diaspora tourism and the Atlantic past in the Gambia – LA Gijanto – 2011
  • International Field Trips-the Tourism and Entertainment Management Field Trip to the Gambia, West Africa – R Wright, D Hind – 2011
  • Rural tourism offer and local community participation in the Gambia – IO Ezeuduji, W Rid – 2011
  • The Paradoxes of Tourism Encounters in the Mass Tourism Spaces of the Gambia – H Pattison – 2011
  • ‘Before Whites Were Devils, Now We Are Marrying Them.’ Moral And Racial Discourses On Romance Tourism In The Gambia – M Niëns – 2010
  • Back to the Land of Roots. African American tourism and the cultural heritage of the River Gambia – A Bellagamba – 2009
  • Stabilization and Tourism at the Gambia River’s Atlantic Trade Sites: the James Island Conservation and Survey Project – L Gijanto – 2009
  • Tourism and development challenges in the least developed countries: The case of The Gambia – R Sharpley – 2009
  • The Gambian tourist value chain and prospects for pro-poor tourism – J Mitchell, J Faal – 2008
  • Tourism in the Gambia: a Case of Planning Failure? – RAJ Sharpley – 2008

The Gambia Data