Our MD, Chris Ayling, has just returned from a whirlwind trip to The Gambia - his aim: property visits, sustainable tourism projects and visiting our long-serving team.
The last couple of years have seen many challenges for us all, and for the tourism market in particular due to the global travel restrictions in place during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we were delighted to be able to once again fly our customers to The Gambia this winter, albeit with reduced numbers. Some of my UK team have already visited during the season to meet with our hotel partners and support our resort team, and I was delighted to make the trip myself a couple of weeks ago before the end of the season.
Although it was no surprise to me as the feedback over the years speaks for itself, our flying partner, Titan Airways, continues to deliver exceptional service above and beyond other charter airlines. This, coupled with daytime flights helps make travelling to and from The Gambia as pleasurable as possible. We continue to offer Star Class upgrades for those that want that little bit extra, although I must say that the food in economy is also excellent – and included in the price, which is very unusual on short and mid-haul sectors these days.
Star Class meal
One purpose of my trip was to visit our properties, both existing and new, to see how we can work together to improve the experience for our customers, whilst taking into account the torrid economic period the travel industry has been through in recent times. Investment has understandably been limited with many hotels experiencing low occupancy this winter as fewer flights from Europe were operating. However, overall I was not disappointed and the feedback from our customers has been encouraging.
We are in fact delighted to be announcing our latest Hotel Awards very soon with the launch of our new 2022/23 brochure, to include a larger Senegal programme, so watch this space! With additional flights planned to arrive in The Gambia from the Netherlands and Scandinavia next winter the future looks promising for the destination.
Kombo Beach Hotel
We are very fortunate to have an extremely loyal and long-serving team based in The Gambia who continue to work tirelessly to make our customers’ holidays as good as they can be. I was able to congratulate those staff members who are due to retire and thank them personally for their many, many years of service for our customers. We wish them well for the future and hope they will keep in touch with the Gambia Experience family.
Our resort team
Through the generosity of our customers and our own fundraising initiatives, we continue to give something back to The Gambia. Championing sustainable tourism through our Community Development Fund and supporting product development to enable tourism to grow and prosper in the destination are front & centre of our approach in The Gambia. I arranged a visit to one of the recent mangrove planting projects that is supported by The Gambia Experience and its customers to ensure everything has progressed as promised. We invested over £25,000 of funds raised through carbon offset donations into a number of mangrove planting projects which will help support local villages in a sustainable manner.
The goal is to restore the damaged ecosystem within the area and to help combat and mitigate the effects of climate change by:
increasing the availability of fish, crabs, and oysters
providing a safe habitat for marine life
reclaiming vast hectares of rice fields that were lost to salt intrusion
For more information on this amazing initiative and our carbon offset commitment, please read our blog here
or visit our Carbon offset web page
Our MD, Chris, reviewing the recently planted mangroves
We are also working in partnership with ComAfrique Inversol Initiative (CII) on their ‘Light up a Village’ project, which brings much-needed solar power to rural villages in The Gambia. Our 22 projects to date help to improve the lives of locals by providing safe, solar lighting and raise funds for the local community to reinvest in their village. Women have been trained to assemble and maintain the lights, which helps empower local women while also creating employment opportunities. A total of 920 lights have now been installed, impacting over 13,000 people. This has saved 1.48 million candles being used, resulting in a saving of approximately £250,000. Furthermore, these 22 villages have also avoided 74,134 MT of greenhouse gas emissions because of the project. We are happy to act as an intermediary for any individuals or associations wishing to support such a project and already do so for Rotary Clubs, for example. Each village project costs around £2,500. We will continue to monitor the success of all our projects to ensure the long-term goals and benefits are met.
As travel finally 'wakes up', we will continue to strive to exceed expectations for our customers and are incredibly grateful for those that travel with us. Next winter is definitely seeing a return to normality, and we hope this ‘normality’ will also apply to the current high cost of aviation fuel which is unfortunately challenging the prices of flying at present. Some of our sales team will be visiting The Gambia again in the autumn, but are ready now to share their expertise and help you book your next Gambian holiday. I certainly can’t wait to go back.