Sunrise in the West?

The last six months have clearly emphasised that there’s a increasing wave of interest in travelling to West Africa. Forget images of civil wars, disease outbreaks and political instability. Travellers are now thinking authentic experiences, colourful and vibrant culture, birds, primates and beaches.

Reaction to our promotion of first, Sierra Leone and then The Gambia, was been nothing short of phenomenal. At the turn of the year we began recruiting travel writers to join us on an exploratory trip to Sierra Leone. We’d agreed a target of 4 freelance journalists, but little did we realise the impact of our press launch at WTM, nor the media event we held at the High Commission in January. Over 20 leading journalists confirmed interest in the trip, citing high quality media commissions.

In the end, we expanded our trip to take eight top writers with a potential of 16 great articles as a result. Plus, we’ve agreed an additional group press trip later in the year. We’ve had the same experience with The Gambia – with both fam trips and media trips over-subscribed within hours of releasing the details.

Africa travel has significantly changed during the decade and a half that Kamageo has existed. One of the biggest changes has been how travellers want to interact with local people. It’s not so long ago that guests would only meet with indigenous guides and lodge waiting staff, whilst perhaps watching a dance troop give a ‘disney-esque’ performance around the firepit. No more.

Now, clients increasingly want to interact with locals, go into authentic markets and villages, buy local produce, peep into school classrooms or visit community projects. Wildlife watching may still be a key driver, but ‘culture’ (in its many forms) is very definitely on the agenda.

The Gambia may not be new to UK audiences, in fact visitor numbers have been good for many years now, but that’s been largely for winter-sun beach holidays. Now the move is being made to venture away from the beach and into The Gambia’s interior - to see colourful local markets and festivals, as well as having the opportunity to see plenty of African wildlife, especially birds and primates.

We are certainly predicting that the future is very bright for tourism in Sierra Leone and The Gambia. But are we also set to see destinations like Senegal, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia increasing their tourism efforts. And if they do, they’ll know who to work with to promote them in the UK!

For more information on both Sierra Leone and The Gambia, please contact 01664 823750 Ext201