Tour guide warns of perils of bumsters

Eddie Janha, 30, said for a sustainable and flourishing industry, authorities should put in place strategies to tackle the issue of the bumster menace that has been plaguing the industry for decades.

In a Standard exclusive at their post in Cape Point, Janha who was also the PRO of the Official Tourist Guide Association said: “It is time to do something about this issue. We are the official tourist guides for the hotel here. We are under the government and work with the Gambia Tourist Board. Here, we receive lots of challenges from the bumsters. Tourists find it difficult to get a walk because of the hassling from bumsters. Some would even prefer to stay inside due to the number of hassling they encounter. This is not good at all for us, the businesses here and the stakeholders.”

Explaining the significance of their role in shaping positively the future of tourism in The Gambia, the seven-year tour guider said: There is a big difference between us and the bumsters. We are here to help tourists. If tourists want to go out, if they want our help we assist, if they don’t we leave them alone. If they encounter difficulties, at least, we try our best. Normally, we recommend tourists to come here so that we can show them some parts of The Gambia. We also organise little excursion trips among other things tourists love doing. Indeed, we are very different from the bumsters.”

Janha, who said bumsters are only looking out for ‘themselves’, also accuses them of not bringing any business to the locals

“They don’t have any choice,” he said disappointingly. “They are looking out for themselves. They are only interested in themselves whereas we think of our families and our communities. They don’t bring any business to the locals at all which is very bad for us because we are all Gambians here. I think we need to help each other but bumsters never try to help. Even the tourist taxi, the bumsters never use them. They go for the local commercial ones.”

Asked if the bumster menace is the only challenge plaguing the industry, Eddie rushed to say: “No, no, no. The bumster menace is not our only challenge here. Even the staff members in the hotel want to do our job. Everybody wants to be a tourist guide. The staff members in the hotel sometimes likes to walk with them, take them out on excursion trips the same way we do. This is not good for us. It means they are taking our job, snatching it away. So we have lots of challenges. Not just bumsters.”

Janha also remembered with melancholy last year’s tourism season: “Last year life at the industry was really tough perhaps due to the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic. It was a difficult year. This time officials remain optimistic saying they expect at least half a million tourists.”

Janha also sounded his opinion about the imposing of a levy on beach users with some even suggesting they are being driven away from their beaches just to accommodate ‘foreigners.’

“No, that is not the case at all. They are not being driven away. There are certain things that the tourists have interest for the nature is very, very important to them. So if the beach is clean, hundreds of thousands would come to your beach, but people normally come to the beach and organise these Sunday parties, the barbeques and other sorts of things. In the end they leave all the rubbish there which is not good for the beach and worst for the tourism sector. The sea needs be clean and kept clean. So, I am definitely in support of the government’s move.”

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