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Jane Warren: Who gambles on love in Gambia?
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Jane Warren: Who gambles on love in Gambia?

The Gambia has become a preferred destination for sex tourists. Check the article below published in the Express (UK) on the 14th April, 2015.

IT SEEMS like the ideal place in which to escape the relentless drizzle of an endless British winter. The Gambia offers not only year-round sun, sand and beaches, but also the excitement of a real African holiday.

The country's official tourism website offers an intoxicating sequence of holiday images - platters of seafood, freshly squeezed juices, palm-thatched huts and smiling locals wearing colourful textiles. But there is something else The Gambia has come to represent: romance.

In fact, the country known as the Smiling Coast of Africa has become the premier destination for British women in search of toy boys. In a country where a third of the population lives below the international poverty line of 86 pence a day, perhaps it is not so surprising that young Gambian men seem so quick to fall for the charms of older British tourists keen to offer them a passport into a brand new future.

And it is not only British women who have fallen prey to the charms of the opposite sex in a country ranked 151st out of 169 countries on the Human Development Index (comparing life expectancy, years of schooling and gross national income per capita).

Yesterday it was revealed that a father dubbed Britain's most gullible man has fallen in love with a third Gambian woman despite two marriages to West Africans ending in heartbreak.

David Tungate, 58, was devastated after his marriage to his first Gambian wife broke down shortly after he brought her home to King's Lynn, Norfolk. His second African wife, Ndey, turned out to be a bigamist who fleeced him of his life savings and left him close to bankruptcy. He is now hoping to find lasting happiness with Isatou Jarju, 30, a café owner.

"My new girlfriend is different," insists David, who was divorced from his British wife in 1992.

"It may be stupid but I always follow my heart."

Relationships forged in the tropical sunshine of West Africa are the ultimate holiday romances. Who wouldn't enjoy strolling down to the beach or pool every morning, sipping piña coladas from a freshly harvested coconut and lazing for hours in the sun with a new love?

Many relationships disintegrate immediately. Others struggle to survive once transposed from Banjul to Birmingham. Some were never real in the first place.

It may be stupid but I always follow my heart

David Tungate

Denise Hardwick was just one woman among many who found her love did not last. She was swept off her feet by a Gambian tennis coach 15 years her junior and never suspected that he might be a love cheat more interested in a visa than in her.

But, like David Tungate, the 46-year-old is now involved with another Gambian, 16 years her junior, whom she plans to marry and bring to the UK.

Denise's eldest son, aged 24, is said to be so appalled by his mother's romantic choices that he has stopped speaking to her.

"Dan is gorgeous and I feel really lucky he's interested in me," says Denise of her new love. "Of course, I know he might be using me too but I'm prepared to take that risk. Life's too short."

A flight stewardess called Hayley nearly experienced the reality of a Gambian love scam when she travelled to the former British colony with a friend. "After declaring his love continuously for my friend, he proceeded to do the same with me," she writes in her blog post entitled "the reality of Gambian men". So she set about doing some research into sex tourism in the West African nation.

"The benefit to the Western woman is clear. However my research has shown that the benefits for the men far outweigh those to the women," she says.

In the course of her research she has come across tales of Gambian men declaring their love for Western women when they already have a Gambian wife and kids; Gambian men introducing their "sister" to the Western partner when in fact she is their Gambian wife; Gambians marrying a Western woman to get a British passport then, when reaching England, disappearing never to be seen again; and Gambian men serial dating.

"On average, Gambian men have 8.4 children, whereas Gambian women have 6.4," she points out. The disparity suggests widespread adultery. "These examples are not isolated cases. The men all say things that I have heard myself from Gambian men."

Hayley had hoped to carry out charity work in the country but says "the horror stories" she has heard have made her feel unable to do so as she fears she might be exploited.

So why did The Gambia become such a preeminent location for love, whether real or imaginary? The tourism industry there started in 1965 with a party of 300 Swedish tourists drawn by the stunning climate.

Located midway between the Tropic of Cancer and the Equator, The Gambia enjoys virtually uninterrupted sunshine and high daytime temperatures that hover between 29-34C year round, with almost no rainfall from November to June. From July to October the tropical sun is punctuated by short but spectacular showers.

Just six hours flight from London, and with all-inclusive package holidays starting at £500 per person, a holiday in The Gambia is an accessible and affordable introduction to West Africa.

Just make sure you are looking for sunshine not love, or you might be disappointed.



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