The Gambia

For my first location I will be investigating the Gambia. I have chosen the Gambia because it’s not a very large country and there’s plenty of information available for it. The Gambia is mainly a winter sun destination this means that most visitors go there when it’s cold here but hot there in the months of November to February. It’s a long haul destination with a 6-hour flight and is Africa’s smallest country only 30miles wide and 300miles long and is known as the ‘smiling cost’.

The Gambia is very popular because it’s a bird watchers paradise with tropical birds never seen before and also because everyone speaks English also it has famous museums to learn more about the slave trade like ‘Roots’. Majority of the population is Muslim. Development of tourism in the Gambia The Tourism in Gambia started some 40 yrs ago, when Gambia got its independence from British rule in 1965 and has increased every year from than.

The development of hotels has had a definite increase with statistics recording around 660 tourist in 1965, than a very big increase from 1975 with over 25, 000 and the latest records show an even larger increase with 112,986 tourists in 1998/99. This is a very large number of tourists considering that the population is only 1,367,124 (approx). The main increase is due to the all inclusive hotels were guest pay one price up front for all their food, drink and entertainment in the hotel.

The all inclusive hotels have been a problem because tourist do not bother to leave the hotel and see the natural beauty and meet the local people which means they do not benefit from the tourist because they cant sell the souvenirs or other things and the tourist miss out because they do not get to explore the beauty of the country and try local cuisines which also means that local restaurants loose out. Another problem is that not all of the money stays in the country because usually the hotels are foreign owned and the money reaches the mother company and this is when leakages occur.

There are a few advantages due to the hotels which are that many local people get jobs in the hotels which means less unemployment and also the contribute to the local economy due to government taxes. The government did try to close the all inclusive hotels down because of all the problems they were causing but because of this tourist stopped coming all together so they had to bring them back again. The impacts of tourism on the physical environment Tourism in the Gambia has had both positive and negative impacts.

The infrastructure of the country has a big part in the environment, the negative sides of the infrastructure are that building work such as hotels and restaurants mean that large amounts of land has to be cleared to make room for all the facilities which mean that the natural rainforest have to be cut down which also may mean the loss of habitat. There is a great deal of soil erosion and footpath erosion on frequently visited destinations, which in the future could cause problems.

The positive sides are that with the new hotels and restaurants for the tourist they need to make basic things like clean running water, electricity and a sewage system, which will also benefit the local people. Another advantage is that greater awareness on the interests in the landscape and vegetation is being taken, also there is a greater need for preservation of ancient monument. The impact of tourism on the local community Majority of the Gambia is Muslim who have very strict food, drink and dress regulations.

Tourist especially from European countries who know little about the belief may behave in an inappropriate manner while visiting there. Women lay topless on the beaches and men walk around half naked around the market area, this causes conflict between the tourist and local people because the locals were bought up to learn that those things are wrong. An example is if tourist walk around holding hands it would upset the local community because they think that there children mite start to think its okay to do this.

Because of the tourist the crime rate usually goes up because of tourist getting drunk causing disturbance, women getting raped and more drug related crimes go up and this could also mean that the local people think this is the correct way to behave, this is known as the demonstration affect this causes great conflict between generations because the new generation may think that there religion is old and out of date and change their traditional morals and general behaviour.

Also traditional ways of cooking will be changed because most tourist want fast food so local restaurants will have to change there ways of cooking and also music and arts will be changed because of foreigners wanting TV’s and radio’s. English words will replace the local language. All this means that the local communities will loose there traditional way of life and will have to change to survive.

It can also be argued that all of these problems are not all due to the impacts of tourism because in the modern world you have TV were the local’s can see the lifestyle of foreigners and will try to copy it, reading magazines and also because of the people travelling to other countries all adds up to the changes.

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