Tourists are scrambling to get out of Gambia after the British foreign office changed its travel advice amid rising fears of unrest after the president declared a national state of emergency.
British tourists who had travelled to the Gambia to escape cold weather were packing up and boarding buses to get to the airport as tour operators decided to get their customers out of the country as quickly as possible.
The country’s long-standing president Yahya Jammeh should be standing down after losing the general election to president-elect, Adama Barrow, who is a former Argos security guard. However, he is now refusing to give up power, instead declaring a 90 day state of emergency in a bit to hold onto office.
Because there are fears this could lead to civil unrest, the foreign office is now advising against all but essential travel to Gambia. Mr Barrow is currently in Senegal but is due to head to the Gambia on Thursday to be sworn in as president, whether or not Mr Jammeh goes or not. However, he is set to be sworn in at a secret location rather than the national stadium.
Tourist Robert Gwynne said he had been travelling to the Gambia each year for more than a decade. However, this time around, he has been forced to leave just two weeks into his two week holiday. He said he felt sorry for those in the tourism industry in Gambia as local hotel staff said they were worried about how they were going to make a living.
One man, who works as a porter at a hotel, said that he felt the situation was dangerous, but that it would be over within three days and stability would return. There were chaotic scenes at Banjul airport as tourists waited for the next flight out of the country.