Interview with Mr Oliver Gaebe, Professional travel journalist from Germany

Before he became a travel journalist in 1996, Oliver Gaebe studied tourism, geography and did his studies in a german hotel school. Over the past years, he visited and lived in many countries and added rich experiences to his knowledge in the field. That makes him an expert in recognising and resolving the issues that appear in different countries' hospitality field.

He got the idea to visit The Gambia from one of his best friends in Germany, who comes from The Gambia. He said to Mr Gaebe,» Oli, you have to do something for our country«. Before he ended up here, he visited Senegal and was able to compare those two countries. Although Senegal is much more developed, he decided to stay in The Gambia and promote it to the German-speaking markets; Austria, Germany, Luxemburg and Switzerland – an interesting target group of travellers of around 100.000.000 people, because he sees there is a lot of potential in this country.

Mr Oliver plans to cooperate with the Ministries to promote the country to the European market. With 25 years of experience, he is confident he can contribute a lot to the recognition of the destination. He wants to develop creative ideas and is also willing to support the hotels by consulting them in the marketing and management of hospitality services.
Oliver says that hotels would be happy to see 630 thousand tourists as there were back in the year 2019. His goal is to bring in 350 thousand tourists in 2022 and maybe 400 thousand tourists from Europe in 2023.

When asking if language can be a barrier for german speaking tourists, Mr Oliver confidently says no. As it might be in the past or with older generations, this does not create a hurdle anymore. He shares the story of an older lady from Germany who he met during his stay at Tamala Beach Resort. She does not speak English, but still, she decided to sell her house in Germany and move to The Gambia because she got so spoiled by the frankness and friendliness of the people here. She will instead try to overcome struggles in communication and be in the place she likes than stay by herself in the nursing home.

When talking about the top 5 reasons why someone should visit The Gambia, the first on Mr Oliver’s list is nature. Many endemic birds are found only in The Gambia, and here you can easily hear the sound of nature. Also, this is a place where one can go back to the past. He compares the Gambia with other overcrowded tourist places in Africa, where rivers and lakes are full of boats, whereas, on the River Gambia, you are alone. People eat healthy food. There is a lot of sun, which gives vitamin D. The beaches are nice and not overcrowded. Last but not least, the friendly people. He says the name The smiling coast of Africa is proper. He has visited over 30 countries in Africa, but the most frankly people in his opinion are living here. He also mentions a lot of potential in the hotel business as he is lately supporting some. Another plus is just 6 hours flight from many of the capital cities of Europe.

The uniqueness of the Gambia, in his opinion, hides in its underdevelopment. There is a lack of infrastructure, of course, but if you do not need to connect to the rest of the world all the time, it can be even pleasant to be disconnected for some time.
We also talked about the interest of German tourists in community-based, responsible and historical tourism in the Gambia. Mr Oliver answers there is plenty. As he spoke with the tourist who visited The Gambia in the last six weeks, they all said they would want to come back for the same reasons. Frank people, beaches and wildlife.
To all the people reading this, his message is: “The Gambia is a wonderful place. Come to The Gambia, visit the Smiling Coast of Africa. Come here, come now, before a lot of tourists are coming”.
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