The Gambia has been a popular holiday destination since the mid 1960's and enjoys a sub-tropical climate with distinct dry and rainy seasons. Most tourists come during the winter months between October to February with a steady tailing off of visitors from March to May. However the cheapest time to go is during the rainy season when many of the most popular beaches are relatively empty. However, the heat & humidity in August and September can be stifling.
There are a wide choice of types of accommodation available to travelers ranging from luxury 5 star hotels to budget accommodation and privately run guest houses and lodges. Most of the accommodations are located in the same coastal area, mostly near Kololi and Kotu.
Tourism offers many benefits to the catering sector and other tourism related services in the urban areas such as small local tour operators, beach juice sellers and the craft markets. The average tourist stays for about 14 days and spends an average of around US$20 on each of those days. It is the aim of the tourism authorities to encourage an all-year-round tourism industry in the medium term.
The Gambia's tourism industry receives over 100 000 visitors a year and is the second highest earner of foreign revenue. Tourists mainly come from Europe with package tour operators. Tourists from the UK make up over 50% of visitors. The remaining number of visitors arriving from Germany, Norway, Sweden & other countries. But despite that a lot of tourist spend a lot of money in Gambia, only a little part ends up with the poor, local people. This video asks tourist what they see as soon as they left the most touristic beaches and come in touch with the extremely poor, Gambian people: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npZXIijIifM
More information about the positive and negative economical effects can be found on visionaryfoundation.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/economic-and-social-impact-of-tourism-in-the-gambia/
Where the Gambia used to be a country of discovery, most tourists now come on mass-booked, cheap package holidays organised by the large tour operators on chartered flights. This can have negative effects on the country. However, the country has been careful to avoid the mistakes made by the likes of Spain and has kept hotel heights down and emphasized an African style exterior for buildings.
Great effort to keep it that way has been made by the Association of Small Scale Enterprises in Tourism (ASSET). This is an association which promotes responsible tourism practices to help reduce the negative effects of mass tourism. Its chairperson is Geri Mitchell, owner of Safari Garden Hotel in Fajara and the Sandele Eco-Retreat in Kartong (south Gambia). The organisation represents the informal sector of the Gambian tourism sector, which are all the small organisations which are not a member of the Gambian Hotel Association.
More information about responsible tourism you can find on www.accessgambia.com/information/eco-tourism-responsible