The crisis is also an opportunity to develop more sustainable tourism. The Gambia has already shown a way forward by developing an alternative to “sun, sand and sea” packages known as The Ninki Nanka Trail. The trail enables visitors to discover the Gambia’s rich natural and culture heritage while experiencing the important oral legend of the mythical Ninki Nanka dragon said to reside in the creeks of the River Gambia.
Launched in February 2020 and set up with the help of an EU-funded Youth Empowerment Project, the trail aims to do two things: help the Gambia to reduce poverty in rural areas by diversifying into community-based tourism, while extending the season into the “green/tropical” months of July/August.
The Ninki Nanka Trail shows how tourism can be used to celebrate culture and facilitate meaningful engagement with communities, but there is much more that could be done in Kenya and the Gambia to target tourists that bring environmental and social benefits as well as economic ones. With stronger international support and a good vision for the future, it is a good moment to build something better than what was there before.