The Minister of Tourism Hamat Bah has said that tourism in the Gambia lost some of its past glory and numbers because the country’s image has been soiled by the tag that it is a sex destination.
He also said that this notion has been widely caused by the activities of the infamous ‘bumsters’, a word now internationally recognized as referring to people who harass tourists for unwanted friendships.
In an interview with GRTS Kerr Fatou, Bah, in a show that stretched almost 2hrs, spoke on various issues that have affected the growth of tourism in The Gambia. According to him, having conducted an investigation into the reason why tourists stopped bringing their families here, he found out that The Gambia was considered a sex destination.
He said: “Cape Verde started tourism 15 years ago and they have 800,000 arrivals. In Gambia, after 52 years of tourism, we are still 150,000 because we will have this belief that ‘bumsters’ are a value to the growth of tourism. The fact of the matter is this country’s image has been battered heavily. I was in Europe suffering everywhere trying to rebrand this country differently and I discovered things that are so disheartening.
I was investigating why we were not getting the Scandinavians anymore; why families were not coming with their children anymore and I discovered that we were considered a sex destination country. We don’t have the millions to pay on CNN and BBC but we have the capacity to meet individuals to help us rebrand this country. You know, these ‘bumsters’ have so-called massage parlours on the beaches and they have young girls kept in these so-called massage parlours. When they see a tourist passing, they would tell you to come in and get massaged.
You would choose one or two of the girls and sleep their naked. You called that tourism for this country? A country of men and women of high value? I can tell you now in this 2018 that Scandinavia is coming back with 750 tourists every week because they know now that there is a new Gambia. Families are coming now with their children. We must take tourism seriously and ‘bumsing’ never ends. The dropouts will never end.”
Mr Bah revisited his controversial suggestion, though putting it humorously that ‘bumsters’ should be locked up until the end of each tourist season.