Now that the democratically-elected President Adama Barrow has started working in earnest, peace and normalcy has returned to this beautiful country and therefore, it is most apt to invite the visitors, including foreign tourists, to return to our shores, writes author Hassoum Ceesay!
Indeed, we have to apologize to all those tourists who had their beautiful stays rudely disrupted in January, and had head back home and to assure them that the attractions that now await them here are even more than what they would have experienced.
First, the new sense of optimism and openness that has come with President Barrow’s accession to power is indeed worth experiencing at first hand. Any tourist with a sense of political or social activism will indeed be impressed by the sanguinity of Gambians.
If before Gambians struck one as dispossessed, awkward, bored and seemingly passed over, now under the new dispensation, any visitor will enjoy our sense of homeliness, boisterousness and empowerment. If, before now, The Gambia had the aura of an abandoned hut waiting for the termites to turn its innards into a mound of soil, now it is a hopeful house with even more caring and sharing and protecting folks.
Second, there is a new sense of openness in the country which will surprise repeaters as we in the tourist/culture sector call the frequent visitors to The Gambia. Even the most friendly travel writers used to warn potential visitors to be AWARE of and AVOID talking politics in the open lest a gum boot shoes one in.
Also, tourists were warned not to venture into certain areas, not to take photos of certain people and places including public spaces as innocent as markets, for example. That was then: now in the New Gambia tourists are assured of freedom-laden visits, devoid of any form of security worry.
Third, memorabilia collectors will have a field day when they visit The Gambia now. The December 1 elections and its terrifying 40 days aftermath have spawned a catalogue of activist-based memorabilia such as the ubiquitous #GambiaHasDecided T-shirts, the Gambia flag, bills carrying the image of the new president even copies of local newspapers witnessing the historic moments unfolding in our country.
Welcome to The Gambia! Welcome to The Gambia! Welcome to The Gambia!