Africa: Gambia Tourism Board hoping to change the narrative of the country as sex haven where EU grannies hook-up with local boys

Sex tourism

As more and more older women from European countries, such as Sweden, German Netherland, and United Kingdom throng to the West African country of the Gambia to satisfy their sexual cravings with younger boys, the Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) says it hopes to change the narrative which the country is becoming known for.

According to the-sun.com, the director-general of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abubacarr Camara, says they are determined to break away from the package holiday image and encourage “tourists who come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists who come just for sex”.

A PENSIONER runs her hand down the back of a strapping Gambian lad at least 30 years her junior as she stares adoringly at his face.

Further down the beach, a heavy-set woman in her 60s reclines on a sun lounger over the lean torso of a man whose fingers she is gripping firmly.

It is scenes like these that Gambian authorities are trying to crack down on as they try to shed their image of ‘The Granbia — where older women go for carefree sex’
Minutes later, a woman with grey hair is spotted taking an athletic chap young enough to be her grandson back to her hotel room.

It is scenes like these that Gambian authorities are trying to crack down on as they try to shed their image of “The Granbia — where older women go for carefree sex”.
Some even want to make it illegal, saying it devastates local families by taking away young men.

But The Sun visited this week and found that what has been dubbed “real-life Tinder for geriatrics” has not changed one bit.

While there is a more visible police presence in Kololi tourist area — and there is talk of making arrests — the couples we spotted clearly did not care what anyone thought of them.

They see the criticism as sexist and think people should mind their own business.
Barbara, 65, from Dartford, Kent, who declined to give her surname, told us: “I don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’m not doing anything illegal. If you go to somewhere like Thailand you see loads of old men with young girls, but no one talks about that.

“The minute a woman gets together with a younger man, there’s an uproar and we’re called cougars and sex tourists and all that. I came here for a bit of fun and I’m not harming anyone.

“If I want to take a good-looking bloke to my hotel room it’s no one’s business but my own.”

Today the main “Senegambia strip” in Kololi is full of bars and restaurants where elderly women can be spotted gyrating with young men.

The average monthly salary here is £200, but for hotel staff it is as little as £50 — while a sex worker can make £500 in a week.

The women rarely pay for sex but instead pick up their partner’s bills during the holiday romances.

‘A bit of fun’
Some fall in love and end up wiring small fortunes to their new lovers.
A young Gambian man walking on the beach explained why so many get drawn into the lifestyle.

Olu, 20, said: “Age is just a number for us. If you go with a rich white lady, you feel proud and people treat you with respect.

“It doesn’t matter what they look like or how old they are. If you are strong you can jump on any woman.

“Life is hard in The Gambia. You only earn £50 a month working in a hotel, but a big bag of rice, which lasts a month, costs £40 now.
“My father died when I was a little boy and I have to look after my mother and three siblings.

“If a white woman likes me, I only ask for a little money to help us to eat and I will love her for as long as she loves me.”

Sunshine breaks to The Gambia can cost as little as £500 for a week’s B&B, making the destination as cheap as places such as Tenerife.

Sisters Jennie Dunphy and Adele Russell have been in The Gambia for just a few days and were shock¬ed by the number of wrinkly white women on the pull.

Project manager Jennie, 43, from Nottingham, said: “You see all these elderly ladies with young men and you want to go over and say, ‘Stop it’.

“We saw one couple in the hotel pool kissing and hugging and all over each other. It was disgusting because she was old enough to be his gran.

“I can see why it happens as people are desperate to get money from the tourists just to survive. Even the masseuses working on the beach will offer you ‘extras’.

“I had a full body massage the other day and the person started massaging my boobs before I could tell them to stop.

She added, joking: “When they asked if I would come back again I said . . . ‘I bloody will!’ ”

Care worker Adele, 45, also from Nottingham, added: “My mum got offered a massage with extras on the beach the other day.

“It’s sad because this is a beautiful country and it has got so much to offer as there is so much to do here. The Gambia’s reputation does put a lot of people off coming.

“I wish police would put a stop to it, but I don’t know what they can do.”
The Gambia Tourist Board believes it does have the answer and has set out an ambitious plan to change the face of its Atlantic coast beach resorts.

A huge amount is being invested in modernising the roads and hotels to create better facilities for visitors.

A delegation of tourist officials ¬visited the UK in June to meet with firms that cater to wealthier holidaymakers, eco-tourists and millennials.

There was also a meeting with British Airways to discuss boosting the number of flights to the only major airport, Banjul.

The director-general of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abubacarr Camara, says they are determined to break away from the package holiday image and encourage “tourists who come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists who come just for sex”.
He told The Sun: “It is imperative we reposition and rebrand destination Gambia to appeal to other, more lucrative market segments.”

The Gambia, known as “The Smiling Coast” due to the sunny nature of its people, is a former British colony that gained independence in 1965.

It took off as a tourist destination when Thomas Cook started selling budget package holidays including cheap flights in the 1990s.

The influx of Brits was a huge financial boost, but also laid the groundwork for its seedy reputation.

Company bosses Claire and Peter Hope are the type of visitor the tourist board is hoping to attract in the coming years.

The couple run Austin’s Family Funeral Directors in Hertfordshire and were back in the country on a two-week package holiday booked through The Gambia Experience.
Peter, 69, said: “We’ve been ¬coming for years because it’s the only place you are guaranteed good weather at this time of year and it’s in a similar time zone, so you don’t suffer from jet lag.

“But I’m not sure I’d recommend it as a destination because you see extreme poverty that would upset a lot of people.

‘Desperate for money’
“We were going to invite two friends on this trip, but when we were travelling to the hotel from the airport, we both said, ‘I’m glad they didn’t come’.

“They probably would have been horrified by what they saw on the way. The amount of poverty is heartbreaking, especially when you see the children that have nothing and are living in tin shacks.

“The Gambia is not for the faint-hearted, but at the end of the day you’re in an underdeveloped ¬country, so what do you expect?”

His wife Claire, 56, added: “The pestering can be a problem. We’ve been here so often we know how to handle it.

“People are desperate for money after going for two years without any tourists during the pandemic. Tourism is the main source of income here.”

The Sun visited days after the first flight from Gatwick landed following the end of lockdown on Friday, October 14.

The return of British tourists has caused huge excitement.
Our reporting team was repeatedly solicited during our first night out on the strip.
The next day on the beach, the men were again out in force and there were scores of middle-aged and elderly women there keen to be entertained.

This was despite a police patrol meant to deter such behaviour.
The government plans to bring in laws to make it easier to arrest local beach boys and older women engaged in suspect relationships.

But experts say it is far from clear how this would be enforced given that the women — many of whom come from the Netherlands, Sweden and Germany plus the UK — rarely pay directly for sex.

During our visit, we spoke to a number of British women who had settled down and married Gambian men — but they were not willing to give interviews.

READ: News: Sex tourism thrives in Africa as female European, American tourists travel to Kenya to get laid by local men

While those women had clearly done nothing wrong, some in tourism are calling for new laws to clamp down on the sex tourists. Lamin Touray, 40, runs Tendaba Camp Safari Hotel in The Gambia and said: “It’s disgusting, but it’s happening. I’ve seen it in my own camp and I’ve tried to stamp on it.

“If you are just on holiday that’s fair enough, but sex tourism is something else. If you’re coming over to take a young man from his family it affects that family.
“We’ve seen British women coming over for a week and spending £500 on a man, but money does not buy a human being.

“It’s not a crime right now, but something can be done and the British government should stand up with the Gambian government.

“Right now a young man sleeping with an elderly woman is not a crime, but I am trying to start a campaign on this. We need new laws because this has to stop.”

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