Our commitment to keeping you safe
Whilst the FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) still advises against all but essential international travel to The Gambia, we have taken the decision to operate a direct service to the Smiling Coast on selected dates and want to reassure you that we’re doing everything we can to ensure that your holiday will be as safe as possible.
8th Jan 2020 - The FCDO advice has been updated today and now advises you will be required to take a mandatory covid test on arrival at Banjul International airport and quarantine pending a negative result. This is in addition to providing a negative PCR within 72 hrs of departure from the UK. Please use the link for full details.
To give you an idea of what to expect, we’ve put together the following guide which shows you how to travel safely, from the moment you arrive at the airport to stepping foot into your accommodation, and how to keep yourself and others safe while you’re away.
BEFORE YOU TRAVEL
It's important that you read the government information relating to The Gambia in full, as you currently need to carry out a COVID-19 test a few days before travel. From 15th December, there is also the opportunity to take a private test on your return to the UK in order to reduce the quarantine period if the result is negative. Please click here for the most up to date travel information.
We always recommend that individuals get adequate travel insurance, and this is especially important this year due to the current situation. Please click here for details of insurers providing cover for COVID-19.
Indemnity form for package holidays to The Gambia
In order to re-open borders whilst reducing the risk of spreading Coronavirus through international travel, The Gambia requires arriving passengers to be in possession of a negative Covid-19 test result dated not more than 72hrs (3 days) prior to travel. Infants aged 0-2 years are exempt, however it is required for children aged 3 years and above. There are an increasing number of companies offering highly accurate PCR Covid-19 tests specifically for travel as more and more overseas destinations require a negative test result upon entry. Unfortunately they are not available on the NHS so must be arranged privately for a fee. The costs and length of processing do vary considerably so here are a few things to consider when making your choice.
- Ensure the test is a PCR test and is specifically offered for the purpose of travel so that results and documentation will be acceptable to authorities
- Results will be checked at your point of departure and you will not be allowed to travel if you are not in receipt of written confirmation of your negative test result (email is acceptable)
- You can opt to have a test taken in a clinic or order a home testing kit – in both cases the sample will be sent to a laboratory for processing and results are generally sent by email and must be date-stamped
- Home testing kits can be ordered at any point prior to departure so the earlier the better to ensure the sample is sent off within the correct window prior to travel, we suggest 7-10 days before your flight in case of a late cancellation of your travel arrangements
- Ensure you have checked the processing times advertised by the company as these may not meet the 72 hour requirement; some companies offer a priority service but you will generally pay more for this peace of mind
- Check if the company processes samples over the weekend or public holidays as this may affect the timing of results being available
- Many companies offer a fast-track delivery service for return of samples so that they arrive in the lab at the earliest possible opportunity; ensure you are familiar with the drop off points / timings each day and time carrying out your test accordingly
Here are some suggested companies you may want to look at but please consider the information above when making your decision.
Randox Health For TUI flight customers use discount code TUIDEC20
Screen4 NB Testing is available over the festive period for our flight on 30th December. Please see here for information
Express Test Good value option based at Gatwick Airport
Diamond Air International NB Testing from base at LHR is available over the festive period for our flight on 30th December. An express service also on offer on 29th December.
Nomad Travel 10% off for our customers, please use code AITO10
It is the customer’s responsibility to ensure that you have the correct documentation prior to check-in for your flight, it is highly unlikely that insurance will cover you for any missed departure for this reason so make sure you choose wisely and follow all guidelines. If your test result is positive, you must follow government advice ie stay at home and self-isolate in which case your insurance may cover you if you have the appropriate Covid cover included under your policy – we strongly urge you to ensure that this is the case.
NEGATIVE COVID 19 TEST REQUIREMENT PRIOR TO ENTRY TO THE UK
The Government announced on the 8th January that passengers arriving from all international destinations will be required to present a negative COVID 19 test result before departing for England to help protect against new strains of the Coronavirus.
The new requirement will be introduced next week, although the exact date has not been announced.
All passengers will be required to show their negative test result before boarding and airlines will deny boarding if necessary. On arrival back into the UK, Border Force will check passengers' test results to ensure that they are compliant and passengers will be subject to an immediate fine of £500 for non-compliance.
We understand this new measure is in addition to the current Travel Corridor process, quarantine requirements for countries not on the Travel Corridor list and the test to release schemes.
AT THE AIRPORT
Every airport is different, so we suggest reading the advice from the UK airport you’re departing from (Gatwick or Manchester). Here are some general tips to keep in mind before travelling.
- Please download boarding passes prior to travel (if applicable)
- Wear a face covering at all times when inside the terminal building, unless you are exempt due to medical reasons
- Your temperature may be taken prior to check-in – this will be a very quick process
- When checking in bags, please try and use the self-service drops where possible
- Security checks may take longer than normal, so leave a little earlier than you usually would to make sure you arrive at the airport with plenty of time
- Maintain social distancing rules in all areas of the airport – these will be the same as in other public places
- Make use of the hand sanitisers located around the airport and wash your hands regularly
- Some outlets may ask for card payments only
ON BOARD THE AIRCRAFT
All airlines, including Titan Airways and TUI, have introduced additional safety measures to minimise the risk of infection and protect you at every stage. Please take a little time to familiarise yourself with the policy of the airline you will be flying with.
- We expect boarding to be done in groups. You will be notified when it is your turn to board your flight
- Face masks / coverings must be worn at the airport, when boarding the aircraft and during the flight, except if you are exempt for medical reasons
- Try and keep hand your hand luggage to a minimum as the crew won't be able to help you put your luggage in the overhead lockers
- Onboard service may be limited to water, which will be available on request. Where a fuller service is in operation contactless payment will be encouraged
- Passengers are politely asked to limit the consumption of their own food or beverages as much as possible. If catering is provided on board, this will be simplified to reduce the risk of transmission
- In-flight magazines will be removed to minimise contact between passengers
- No duty free service will be offered
- You will be allowed to use the toilet, but please try to avoid queuing in the aisle
- Rest assured that aircraft cabins are thoroughly disinfected daily, providing surface protection which is effective for at least 24 hours. An air ventilation and filtration system is also used
- For more information about how you can protect yourself and others while travelling, please click here
Every hotel will be different, but here’s a breakdown of the sort of safety measures you can expect.
- Social distancing – Every country will follow different social distancing rules. These will be shown with floor markings, and it’s likely you will see these in your hotel’s communal areas. Simply ask reception on arrival if anything is unclear
- Wearing masks – It is likely your hotel may ask you to wear a face covering in communal areas, including reception and whilst entering and leaving the hotel. Please bear in mind that some guests may be exempt from wearing masks for medical reasons
- Buffet meals – There might be a change in the way some hotels serve food. You may find that your hotel introduces timed dining sittings and table menu service rather than a self-service buffet
- Swimming pools, sunloungers and tables - Swimming pools will be open and sunloungers and tables will be positioned at a safe distance from one another to allow for social distancing. Hotel staff will be on hand to advise if needed
- Spas and gyms – Most should be open but with a limit on the number of guests using the facilities at any one time and some facilities such as saunas may not be available. Reception staff can assist with any queries
- Out and about – It’s important to also follow local guidelines and social distancing measures when you leave your hotel. If you are unsure of anything, please speak to our representative or your hotel staff
Coach transfers will be provided according to local social distancing guidelines, but masks will be required and travelling groups will sit together. There will also be a reduction in the maximum occupancy of the vehicle. Guests with private taxi transfers will also be required to wear masks.
Strict protocols are in place regarding the operation of excursions. Transportation will be cleaned between each group and face coverings will be required. Numbers may also be restricted. Your representative will explain specific details at the welcome meeting and be able to answer your questions prior to booking.
We recommend reading government advice on travel to the country your holiday is based in. In addition, please note that everyone reentering the UK is currently required to submit a locator form no more than 48 hours prior to travel. Please click here for more information.
On behalf of everyone here at The Gambia Experience, we hope we can whisk you away to Africa's Smiling Coast very soon!