Overly aggressive touts can often ruin your time in a city. They wait outside your hotel and follow you everywhere, offering their services as a guide and ironically protection against other touts from bothering you as well. The only place I’ve run into this was in Turkey, but apparently it is very common in many parts of Africa.
But, in Gambia, the services rendered often fall into the sexual category. Known as “bumsters,” some of Gambia’s young male touts offer a whole lot more to please their clients than simply showing them the local market. While most women would consider such propositions an even worse affront than simply being approached for guide services, apparently the word is out for those women actively seeking such local “experts.”
Although the term “sex tourism” usually conjures up planeloads of dirty old men flying to Bangkok, it is the opposite in Gambia. Gambia bound planes, according to a recent Reuters article, “regularly arrive with a high proportion of women traveling alone.” Britain was singled out as a country of origin for many of these female sex tourists, but the phenomenon appears to be European in general.
I suppose I could make some lame joke about hanging out in the arrival lounge at Gambia’s airport, roses in hand, but I’m above that. I think.