Tourism industry in The Gambia gutted by global recession

We all know the global recession has hit the tourism industry pretty hard, but smaller countries off the beaten path are feeling it worse, and are less able to bounce back.

The Gambia is the smallest nation on the African mainland and has a modest tourism industry based around its beautiful beaches, serene river, and two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the mysterious stone circles pictured here. Unfortunately, Mr. Alieu Secka, president of the nation’s Hoteliers Association, says there’s been a 50% drop in arrivals for the 2009/2010 season. A quick check of several leading hotels revealed the figure to be more or less accurate.


The Gambia is not a rich nation, and such a plunge in the industry will threaten jobs and businesses, creating a knock-on effect as families have to support the newly jobless.

Is The Gambia the proverbial canary in the coalmine? Will other small nations get hit this hard?

Hopefully I’ll be going to The Gambia in 2010. My wife, who is very supportive of her wandering husband, gave me a flight there as a Christmas present, so assuming I don’t trade it in for a flight somewhere else to visit my friend as he motorcycles across Africa, I’ll be able to give a firsthand report. Perhaps I’ll bring along some extra money to spend. The Gambians deserve it.

In case you’re wondering, I got her an espresso machine. She didn’t want to go to The Gambia with me so I guess she’ll just sip espresso at home and read my blog posts.