columnBy Yunus Saliu
It is another boom season for the tourism sector. But one important thing that needs to be discussed amidst the start of this season is 'bumsters' and how to avoid them.
The Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture (MoTC) is taking very serious stand in waging war against 'bumsters.' This is to make sure that each season is hassle free and a success so that every holidaymaker and visitor to destination Gambia enjoys their stay and holiday in the country. Due to this it is as well good for the tourists and visitors to our destination join in fighting them.
Who are the 'bumsters' as it might be a strange word to some from outside the destination? Whatever, 'bumsters' are touts walking around the tourism development area (TDA), resorts, sites and so on and want to get closer to any holidaymaker or visitor by all means for familiarity, earning commission, most time in exchanging pleasantry for their personal desire or interest. Tout is an individual person who tries to help as you might think but indirectly a burden to whomever that fall for them. In order words touts are regarded to be middlemen that get commission from any service they rendered to whomever they approached and fall for them.
Tout is not limited to one sex; tout can be a man or woman, young or old with half or no education. Still with powerful expression ability to convince people but most of them lack mannerly expression. Among the touts there is good, the bad and ugly. Not all of them are bad but it is just that the bad ones superseded the good ones among them.
It is necessary that everyone join hand with GTBoard to flush out touts from the tourism development area because all their services and behaviors are in an importune manner that can bring set back to the industry. 'Bumsters' are always in their own world they exist throughout the tourism destinations around the world.
Tourists are means of survival to touts because whatever help they render to tourist will be followed by any means of compensation hence they always earn or receiving gifts, money for a return to guiding, introducing tourists to some areas like shop, site among other things as far as their service providers are concerned.
Some repeat visitors to not only destination Gambia but around the world most time found 'bumsters' as unwanted people because oftentimes they are importune to get something from holidaymakers. Any destination they are given chances you will come across them with their phenomenon in just every place, site, resort that attracts tourists or visitors, especially international tourists. Regional tourists might be a bit free from them but not always lucky.
Do you want to experience the act of 'bumster?' Well it is easy if you are fortunate to meet them in TDA when they are 'bumstring.'Some of them try to speak with their or on top of their nose, while some speaks Rastafarians English and some would prefer American stylish speaking method. All depend on the type of who you are. With the simple word of hi! And your response without hesitation will definitely reveal your origin identity and this enhance their style of approach. 'Bumsters' will approach you one after another as far as they do not see you walking with any of them, tout.
You do not need to fall into their coercion or allowed them to manipulate you because there is little or no gain from them to you if you deal with them.Because sometimes dealing with them can put you at risk. Although, sometimes 'bumster' can approach you with sympathetic story but it is left to you to use your initiative. As a visitor to any destination it is much better you approach directly any of the government or board approved tour guides for any service you might in anyway need.
Better still, you can talk to your hotel's manager or your handler who can link you up with appropriate tour guide. At least this is ninety-eight per cent if not one hundred per cent reliable and better. Should in case of any complain you will have someone to direct your complain if things did not went as you might have thought.
In the Gambia, the tourist security unit (TSU) is doing great job but they might not afford to be everywhere at a time, therefore, at the TDA, site, resorts among other places when you are walking and been approached by any unfamiliar face or 'bumster' it is easy and better say 'no, thank you' to their offers especially when you do not need one. This can continue until you are able to get yourself acquainted with the environment.
Again try to be careful as a visitor or tourist when you are at any touristy area and someone offer you free service. Nothing go for free, although Gambia people are kind, care and hospitable, but the 'bumsters' are not as you can think of because they need something in return of their services.
However, 'bumsters' are simply people trying to make a living to support their families. But their trying to derail and damage the good system putting in place by the GTBoard in their manners and ways of doing things may not seem like the most honest way to make living. Their tactics is a wrong way to survival because it is damaging. This is simply because most of them are aggressive in approach. They can be very intimidating.
As a tourist the best way to friend and deal with them is for you to ignore them without acknowledge their existence. With simple ignore, 'bumster' will walk away from you because he or she will know that you are aware of their tactics. This does not mean that you are arrogant. It is better to join hands to flush act of 'bumstering' from their system rather than encouraging it, enjoy your holiday!