Gambia is clamping down on British grannies flocking to the country searching for toy boys and is desperate for “quality tourists ” to visit the country.
The tiny West African nation has been a haven for older women seeking a lover or partner for many years, but the country is now sick of its reputation as a sex hotspot for mature women from Britain and Europe.
“What we want is quality tourists. Tourists that come to enjoy the country and the culture, but not tourists that come just for sex”, Abubacarr Camara, director of the Gambia Tourism Board, said.
Sex tourism in the nation has been booming since the 1990s when budget package tours to the former British colony became popular.
Two years ago there was a documentary titled “Sex On The Beach” which shocked viewers when reporter Seyi Rhodes found bars packed full of elderly white women in search of younger Gambian men.
One pensioner told Seyi that the country was “paradise” because you can have a different man every night. One Twitter user said: “This sex on the beach programme is so disturbing —old white women preying on poor Gambian men for sex, how ugly is that”
The country was once described as a “real-life Tinder dream for geriatrics”, but now the government is considering introducing laws that give police powers to arrest local beach boys and older women engaged in suspected relationships.
There are few jobs and low wages in Gambia, so men seek relationships often in exchange for much more money than they could ever usually earn. Kausu Samateh, a tourist guide, told the Telegraph: “People are poor here, so they have no choice. “They think it is better to go to Europe where they will have a better life.
They hope that the old ladies will take them.” The so-called Senegambia strip near the capital city, Banjul, has become a Benidorm-type hotspot for lonely British pensioners and tourism accounts for around 20 per cent of GDP. Lamin Fatty, national coordinator at the Child Protection Alliance, said the British government could be doing more to collaborate with Gambia to stop its citizens from exploiting young Gambian boys.
One well-known case is of a mother of nine who left her husband for a Gambian toyboy she met online. Heidi Hepworth ended her 23-year marriage to Andy, 48, and began a relationship with Mamadu ‘Salieu’ Jallow, 34, after converting to Islam. She said in 2018: “No one imagined this would last but we love each other and are making plans to marry. I’ve never been happier.”
Her husband from County Durham said she was having a mid-life crisis and had been brainwashed. Speaking about the relationship on ITV’s Loose Women she said: “It was daunting at first. I got on the plane and thought ‘Oh my God, what have I done?’. “But then I got there, and he met us off the plane with his brother and friend, and it was alright. It was magical.”