25 Jul 2023
The Gambia is a West African country. It is surrounded by Senegal and is the smallest country on Africa’s mainland. Its population is just over 2 million. According to a report by USAID, a tenth of the Gambia’s total population lives abroad to earn a living and send money to Gambia to extend financial support to their families.
These Gambian expatriates have been ‘playing a crucial role in the socio-economic development of the country,’ said Dr Abdoulie Sreh Jallow, the first deputy governor of the Central Bank of the Gambia (CBG). He said that the Gambian expatriates had sent $712 million in remittances to the county in 2022, serving as an economic ‘lifeline’ for the country’s economy.
Since most of the expatriates from around the world hail from developing countries, they travel abroad to find better work opportunities.
This immense travelling across the world for a long time has now become a cause for grave concern for the environmentalists who keep an eye on the health of planet Earth.
Therefore, they are encouraging travellers to travel in an eco-friendly manner that does not exact a toll on the earth’s environment and atmosphere.
But do you know what eco-friendly travelling is and which countries in the world complement your eco-friendly travelling as a Gambian expatriate?
Well, continue reading to find it out but let’s first understand what eco-friendly travelling is!
Simply put, eco-friendly tourism aims to conserve the environment.
Needless to say, the earth’s environment is fast deteriorating due to continuous human intervention in and meddling with nature.
The two terms run parallel to each other in discussing eco-friendly travel. One is ecotourism, and the other is sustainable travel. Both aim at not harming the environment and enhancing the socioeconomic conditions of the local people.
Now let’s take a look at the twin terms separately.
In ecotourism, the focus is on the cultural heritage, flora and fauna that are indigenous to a place.
In sustainable travelling, the focus is on the travelling approach or destination or both about the environment.
By now, you would be thinking about what prompted the world to focus its attention on ecotourism. Right?
Well, the primary reason is the non-stop travelling of the migrants from the Gambia or other countries for that matter, to earn a living and support those dependent on them financially through money transfer to Gambia and the following impacts on the environment resulting from this continuous travelling.
Of course, the impacts of travelling on the environment, which are many and grave, fade into insignificance in comparison to the needs that prompt travelling. But some prime ones are briefly discussed below:
These are some of the harmful impacts of tourism on the environment. Of course, the Gambian migrants are not responsible for this. Rather the idea is to explain the concept concerning travelling to developed from developing states for better work opportunities.
Now, let’s find out the top eco-friendly travel destinations for Gambian migrants.
Below is the list of countries you should consider going to that are rolling initiatives out to minimise the impact of travelling on the environment.
Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake, with a direct rail connection from Milan. It allows you to leave your cars at home and travel by train. It has the unique distinction of having the country’s greenest hotel.
About 60% of the area’s energy comes from renewable resources like solar and wind, which reduces the omission of CO2 substantially.
Apart from being one of the most robust economies worldwide that accommodates job-seeking Gambian expatriates to earn a living and send money to Gambia online for their family’s financial support, Switzerland is a fit for ecotourism.
Find out more about job opportunities for Gambian migrants abroad here:
Arosa houses Hotel Valsana, Switzerland’s first hotel heated by an ‘Ice Battery’. It is an energy recovery system that reuses surplus heat energy that is otherwise lost to the surrounding environment.
You will find several electric car charging points across the town, with the one being in the town’s centre, that is free to use!
Although it requires cars and a lot of travelling o get there, the efforts are worth it apart from the impact on the environment.
But, several properties like the Pikaia Lodge are striving to protect the fragile environment and offset the cost of reaching there.
This hotel is made from steel to recycle later if there is a need. Walls are covered with lava stones collected from different areas, and furniture is made from sustainable teak.
It is a private island resort offering a unique eco-friendly environment to both the locals and the visitors. You will find large swathes of green patches across the island with calm and serenity all around.
The island supports the locals through economic activities, including teaching local women the traditional art of weaving. These products are then sold at the hotel and to tourists.
These are some of the eco-friendly destinations you can enjoy travelling to.
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What is eco-friendly travel?
Eco-friendly travel, also known as sustainable tourism or green travel, refers to responsible travel practices that focus on conservation, preservation, and appreciation of the environment. This type of tourism involves making choices that minimise the impact on the environment and the local culture while helping to generate income and employment for local people.
What are the top sustainable tourism destinations for Gambians in 2023?
In 2023, the top sustainable tourism destinations for Gambians include Costa Rica, known for its biodiversity and commitment to sustainability; Iceland, for its renewable energy practices and untouched natural landscapes; Palau, an archipelago in the Pacific Ocean with a focus on protecting marine life; Slovenia, a European gem with a strong emphasis on eco-tourism and sustainability; and Rwanda, in Africa, which has made significant strides in conservation, particularly with its mountain gorillas.
How can Gambians practice eco-friendly travel?
There are many ways to practice eco-friendly travel. These include choosing eco-friendly accommodations, minimising energy use, reducing, reusing, and recycling whenever possible, supporting local economies by buying local products and services, respecting local customs and conserving the local environment. Travellers should also consider the carbon footprint of their travel and consider offsetting this through carbon offset programs.
Why is it important for Gambians to consider eco-friendly travel?
It's important for Gambians, like everyone else, to consider eco-friendly travel because tourism has a significant impact on the environment and local communities. By choosing sustainable travel options, Gambians can help to protect the natural and cultural heritage of the places they visit, support local economies, and minimise their carbon footprint.
How is the eco-friendliness of a destination determined?
The eco-friendliness of a destination is determined by several factors. These include the destination's commitment to conserving the local environment and wildlife, the availability and promotion of sustainable tourism practices, and the degree to which local people are involved in and benefit from tourism. This can be reflected in a variety of ways, such as through sustainable accommodation options, eco-friendly activities, and practices that respect local cultures and support local economies.