The Gambia, the smallest country in mainland Africa, has become an increasingly popular travel destination, particularly among Finns seeking sex partners on vacation, the tabloid daily Ilta-Sanomat reported, citing a suggestive rise in travels and marriages.
Kari Jaakkola, who has been living in the Gambia for almost a decade, claimed to have encountered a flight from Europe booked entirely for women, where men were unable to register at all. "There was also a hotel in which women could choose a companion by photograph," he claimed.
Ladies traveling single are offered the same services in the Gambia, but in a different way, with longer handshakes, more eye contact, lavish praise of their home country and ample compliments for their smiles and gaits, Ilta-Sanomat reported.
"It's an entirely free choice. You have to enjoy life and do what your heart tells you," he told Ilta-Sanomat.
At present, Tjäreborg is the only travel company organizing tours to the Gambia. Although Tjäreborg representatives admitted that the tourist flow to the Gambia has doubled from 2,500 to 5,000 over the past year, they vehemently denied the country allegedly functioning as a sexual magnet, let alone organizing specific sex tours there.
"People choose Africa primarily because of the sun, the heat and the beaches, but of course, middle-aged women go there, too" manager Anu Niemelä told Ilta-Sanomat, revealing that the Gambia is particularly popular this winter.
However, Finns' increasing infatuation with the Gambia, is backed by a spike in intermarriages. According to Statistics Finland, the first time a Finnish lady married a Gambian man happened in 1989. After a slow but steady growth, Finnish-Gambian marriages peaked in 2017 at 63. By contrast, Finnish men exhibit much less interest in Gambian wives, with only 12 marriages during the peak year of 2008.
In 2017, the Swedish tabloid daily Expressen ran a story about a Finnish 71-year-old, Maire Pehkonen, who "left a life of loneliness" in Sweden to marry a Gambian man, Lamin Sanneh, almost 40 years her junior.
"Life is short and I want to have fun," an elated Pehkonen explained to the newspaper.
The Gambia is a West African country of 2 million. It is entirely surrounded by Senegal and is known as the smiling coast of Africa due to its peculiar form along the coast of the Gambia River.