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BusinessTravel Guide

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THE GAMBIA

A small yet humble nation of touristic promise


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hile The Gambia might be known as the smallest nation on the African mainland, it has equally developed a reputation as one of the continent’s most tourist-friendly

countries. An obvious draw is its promise of warm weather, yet The Gambia is so much more. Home to everything from quiet tropical beaches and colonial architecture to an abundance of flora

and fauna that is perfect for wildlife enthusiasts, it’s nothing less than a hidden gem along the West African shoreline. The landscape is largely comprised of forests and marshland that surround

THE GAMBIA

From golden sands and palm trees on tropical beaches to more than 500 species of bird, The Gambia is proof that good things come in small packages Writer: Jonathan Dyble | Project Manager: Jordan Levey

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the River Gambia, a 1,120-kilometrelong waterway that runs through the heart of the country and into Senegal and Guinea. Further, the City of Banjul, formerly known as Bathurst, is the country’s

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northern capital and the most densely populated metropolitan area. However, it must be noted that it is only the country’s fourth largest city. With Brikama to the west and Bakau to the south and a thriving traditional,

cultural and ecotourism scene spanning across the eastern reaches of the country, there is something for everyone when it comes to exploring The Gambia.

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The Business End CO CO ONED BY SENEGAL, The Gambia’s economic epicentre can be found on its western seafront, the country home to a 60-kilometre stretch of Atlantic coastline. As such, re-export trade constitutes a large part of the nation’s economic activity, while rain-dependent agricultural activities are also a significant contributor and employ approximately 75 percent of the country’s entire labour force. In more recent times, however, tourism has equally come to account for increasingly large proportions of GDP, owed to the three strands it is able to provide: traditional sun seeking holidays, culture trips and

nature-centric excursions. In fact, the number of international arrivals rose to 225,000 last year, surpassing the 171,000 tourism-related visitors recorded in 2017, helping to set the World Bank’s latest forecast that expects the country’s economy to grow by 5.4 percent this year and maintain similar growth through 2020. This in mind, while economic development is still required, both in the way of diversification and infrastructure developments if the country is to make real progress, there has certainly been an air of optimism surrounding the country in recent times.

City of Banjul, formerly known as Bathurst, is the country’s northern capital

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FACTS & FIGURES

Languages: Area: Population (2016): GDP (2017): Currency: Time zone: Dialling code: Internet TLD: Climate: Highest recorded temperature:

English 11,295 km² 2.1 million $1 billion Gambian dalasi GMT +220 .gm Sub-tropical 45°C


“Kololi Beach Resort, is the perfect holiday location on the Smiling Coast of West Africa ... where time stands still.”

You’ll be proud to recommend us

Golf course

European construction quality

l 1 & 2 Bedroom self-catering villas and apartments l All year round accommodation l Renting or buying has never been easier l Superb payment plans l 18 Hole / Par 3 Golf course

Beachside restaurant

Beautiful interiors

For more information Telephone: 00 220 222 2242 Email: bookings@kololi.com Facebook: Kololi Beach Resort Instagram: KololiBeachResort(Gambia) Website: kololi.com


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Gambia Hotel Association ONE ORGANISATION THAT has been paramount to the furthering of Gambia’s tourism ambitions is the Gambia Hotel Association (GHA). Initially set up in 1973 with a modest membership of just three hotels, the organisation has expanded rapidly to encompass over 40 hotels today, comprised of two-star to five-star hotels. Speaking with Bunama Njie, the association’s current General Manager, we discussed the forecast for the country’s tourism industry, looking at some of the most exciting prospects that are set to transform both the MICE scene and the wider leisure segment. Africa Outlook (AfO): Can you firstly talk me through the origins of the Gambia Hotel Association, how it came about, and its initial vision? Bunama Njie (BN): Since its inception in the 70s, the core function of the GHA has been to serve as an advocacy body for its members, facilitate networking and collaborate with the tourism sector and other tourism stakeholders including the Ministry of Tourism and culture and other various agencies.

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Given the exceptional growth of tourism, the role and functions of the GHA include influencing policy in critical areas of hospitality development; proactive marketing and promotion of members products through joint marketing with other stakeholders such as the Gambia Tourism Board; capacity building programmes for members to keep abreast of new trends and encourage high standards of service delivery; and enhance partnership and networking amongst the growing membership and other organisations, share best practices, experiences and more. AfO: How would you say Gambia has developed in recent years as a business travel hub and what are the key reasons behind its growing appeal? BN: Owed to a change in government in 2017, we have rejoined the Commonwealth and cemented our dented relations with the EU where roughly 60 percent of our tourists come from. We’ve also enhanced relations from other international communities such as the UK and USA, while tireless marketing efforts from the Ministry

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of Tourism and Culture, the Gambia Tourism Board, the Gambia Hotels Association, the travel and Tourism of the Gambia and the Association of Small Scale enterprise in responsible Tourism has paid dividends. AfO: Why, in your opinion, should someone visit Gambia? BN: When it comes to choosing the best destination to enjoy your leisure in Africa, Gambia tops the list in terms of memorable places to enjoy and get the best African experience. You won’t experience any jet lag from the six-hour flight to most destinations that often feature gorgeous long sandy beaches, glorious winter sun and the vibrant, exotic culture and legendry hospitality of the local people. This is not to mention the abundance of exquisite and trendy resorts, the related complimentary facilities and a great ecosystem epitomised by the majestic Gambia River. Alongside this, you can expect the best local and international cuisines and different daily activities such as river cruising, fishing events, adventure and village tours, cultural orientation, and sporting activities.


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AfO: Are there any specific attractions, landmarks or places to eat and drink that you would recommend? BN: There are many restaurants to eat from but topping all the clusters is the Senegambia Strip where there are more than 20 restaurants. I would specifically recommend the Senegambia Beach Hotel Domorr Dula international restaurant and African Buffet daily, Reo’s, Three Chicks, Al Rauche Lebanese restaurant, Scala restaurant, El Sol, Gustov Italian BN: The Gambia is fast developing restaurant, African Queen International as a business hub, as we are now very and African, Darboes Gambian Dishes, much focused on the MICE business. Tao Asian and many more! More conference facilities are being built, three new hotels have been AfO: What are the best ways of opened this year alone with over a getting around the country? capacity of 500 new beds, and another BN: There are organised and five new hotels are under construction, tailored tours offered by the Tourism expected to be operational in and Travel Association (TTAG) of the 2020/2021 and provide an additional Gambia, or organised tourist guides 1,000 beds. if you’re looking for a more personal and local touch. Alternatively, you AfO: Are there any plans or can hop in a taxi and explore what projects in the pipeline that you Gambia has to offer, such as Makasutu wish to highlight? Cultural Forest, Renowned ROOTS, BN: Gambia will host the 2021 Kunta Kinteh Island, wildlife and bird Organisation of Islamic Cooperation watching. (OIC) conference, and currently a new international conference centre is AfO: How do you see Gambia being built in the famous Senegambia developing as a business travel Area in readiness for the forthcoming hub over the next year to two years? event. Further, there is also a new 400-

room hotel, VIP lounge at the Banjul International Airport, a 22-kilometre express way and a 50-kilometre feeder road under construction. We’re also investing in a water and electricity supply project, estimated to cost $222.5 million. AfO: Are you optimistic about the future of the tourism industry in Gambia? BN: We’re very optimistic. The Gambia is one of the most sought-after tourism destinations in the sub-region, as are its exquisite hotels and resorts that overshadow the popularity of others in this part of Africa. Similarly, there is a rapid increase in investments to renovate and construct ultramorden hotels and resorts across the country, something that will serve to further this reputation.

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Out & About WHEN TRAVELLING AROUND Gambia’s coastal regions, typical beach-related activities such relaxation and water sports are expectantly popular. Home to a coastline that is rarely overcrowded and features golden sands, numerous palm trees and reliable weather forecasts, it’s no surprise that the country has been described as a beach lover’s paradise. Some of the most highly recommended locations include Kotu Beach, Brufut and Kololi, each providing idyllic, serene settings. Meanwhile, national parks and nature reserves are a particular highlight as you head further inland, showcasing the 500-plus species

of bird that inhabit the country, alongside monkeys, crocodiles, hippos and a number of other exotic animals. Intrepid travellers often work their way along the River Gambia, partaking in a number of excursions, while budding birders generally head for the Bao Bolon Wetland Reserve. When considering local cuisine, street food is often unbeatable and readily provides a cheap and often cheerful authentic experience. Must try dishes include chicken yassa, m’bahal rice and a number of afra dishes that place a local twist on barbecuing. It must be noted, however, that vegetarians and vegans may struggle to get by with local cooking.

Hundreds gather on one of Gambia’s famous beaches

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" The Gambia- Today's Gateway into Africa"

Commercial Office Buildings High Quality Infrastructure Network Airport Business Hotel Light Goods Manufacturing High Quality constant energy supply

Redistribution Hubs On-site Integrated Leisure Center Multiple Retail Centres High-Speed Telecommunication Internet Services Eco Friendly Buildings

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Outlook Recommends “The Gambia may be the smallest country on the continent, but its captivating array of attractions belies its tiny size” – Lonely Planet

HOSPITALITY

TOURS

Kololi Beach Club Limited Kololi Beach Resort is a prestigious resort for the discerning holiday maker and holiday homeowner, ideal for those who prefer guaranteed luxury when staying away from home. Set within 24 acres of lush gardens and situated along a stunning beach front location, Kololi Beach is perfect for relaxation in stunning, natural surroundings.

NATIONAL PARKS

River Gambia National Park

TAF Gambia Tours

Kiang West National Park Abuko Nature Reserve MUSEUMS

Gambia National Museum White Horse Residence Ocean Bay Hotel & Resort 10

Gambia Tours Arch Tours

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Tanje Village Museum Stone Circles Site Museum


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AFRICA

We provide many services for both the local community and tourists traveling from all over the world. Among these are Hotel Reservations, Airport Transfers, Flights to Europe and a wide selection of excursions around the Gambia and Senegal, which allow you to enjoy the culture, food and the general atmosphere of this wonderful country. Bijilo, Off the bertil Harding Highway, P.O.Box 217, Banjul, The Gambia, West Africa +220 4462601 / 2 | info@gambiatours.gm | www.gambiatours.gm GambiaToursLimited

@gambiatours

A Luxury Island of Recreation

The White Horse Residence Batokunku E-Mail: info@whitehorseresidence.com Phone: +220 360 1111

www.whitehorseresidence.com

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Transport Links BANJUL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, also known as Yundum International, is the country’s only international airport. Located approximately 15 kilometres south from the northern coast, a short taxi or bus journey is required to get to the city centre, costing around D300-400, or roughly $8. Domestic flights aren’t an option within Gambia itself, so a combination of taxis, buses and/or car hire are

recommended for getting around. The country’s Gambia Transport Service Company (GTSC) bus service, inaugurated in 2013, continues to launch new routes and expand its reach and has transformed the country’s public transport network. Navigating The Gambia does pose some challenges, however, owed to poorly maintained roads, a lack of streetlamps and more. The country has 4,000 kilometres of road, but just

750 kilometres of these are paved, for example. This in mind, four-wheel drive vehicles are generally recommended where possible. Otherwise, for short distances, bicycles can be the best way of getting around. These are often available to hire at hotels and resorts and can be a cheap and convenient way of exploring on a day-to-day basis.

Banjul International Airport

IMAGE BY KARTE: NORDNORDWEST, LIZENZ: CREATIVE COMMONS BY-SA-3.0 DE, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE

Typical West African bushtaxi waiting for passengers

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Landmark Attractions Fort Bullen

“It was built by the British in 1826 to thwart the efforts of some European slave traders. In the early 1970s it was declared a National Monument, and in 2003, along with the Six-Gun Battery in Banjul, was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site” – Access Gambia

Makasutu Culture Forest

“Like a snapshot of The Gambia, Makasutu Culture Forest bundles the country’s array of landscapes into a dazzling 1,000-hectare package. The setting is stunning, comprising palm groves, wetlands, mangroves and savannah plains, all inhabited by plenty of animals, including baboons, monitor lizards and hundreds of bird species” – Lonely Planet

Arch 22

Wassu Stone Circles

“The site consists of four large groups of stone circles that represent an extraordinary concentration of over 1,000 monuments in a band 100 kilometres wide along some 350 kilometres of the River Gambia. It reflects a prosperous, highly organised and lasting society” – UNESCO

PHOTO BY ATAMARI, CC BY-SA 3.0

“The Arch 22 is an impressive monument and one of the tallest structures in the country at about 114 feet. The off-white coloured gateway arch which spans Independence Drive was built to commemorate the July 22 coup of 1994” – Afro Tourism

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BusinessTravel Guide joe.palliser@outlookpublishing.com

+44 (0)1603 959 676

matt.cole-wilkin@outlookpublishing.com

+44 (0)1603 959 669

jordan.levey@outlookpublishing.com

+44 (0)1603 959 668

www.africaoutlookmag.com

Profile for Outlook Publishing

The Gambia Business Travel Guide 2019  

The Gambia Business Travel Guide - Africa Outlook - Issue 72

The Gambia Business Travel Guide 2019  

The Gambia Business Travel Guide - Africa Outlook - Issue 72