COVID-19 has not dampened investor interest in Guyana’s tourism
– Prime Minister Phillips
– expect more than US$1B investments in hotel construction
– tourism to be central pillar in non-oil economy
Prime Minister Hon Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips says the COVID-19 pandemic has not dampened investor interest in Guyana’s tourism product. The Prime Minister made this statement on Thursday evening, during the launch of “Sounds and Colours of the Rainforest,” produced by Major (ret’d) Michael Charles at the Arthur Chung conference Centre (ACCC).
“A number of investors are lined-up and ready to inject massive investments in hotel construction. We are also courting other investors with the aim of increasing the stock of hotel rooms by an additional 2,000 units. We anticipate more than US$1 billion investments in the hotel construction sector within the next three years,” the Prime Minister said.
He noted that this will boost conference and convention tourism and, in the process, create about 4,000 additional jobs.
“Even as we shelter the industry from the effects of the pandemic, we are preparing for the imminent revival. We have begun to provide support to aid the sector. In last year’s Emergency Budget, for example, we announced the removal of the value-added tax on hinterland travel and the provision of special tax incentives for new hotels and tourism-related businesses.”
In spite of the challenges the pandemic has imposed on the industry, the Prime Minister told the gathering to expect unprecedented levels of investment and increased tourist arrivals.
“This pandemic has taken a heavy toll on our tourism industry. Restrictions on travel and border closures have adversely impacted on local tourism. Despite these adverse developments, tourism is attracting increasing investments as evidenced by the surge in investment interest in high-end accommodation facilities.”
He said even as tourism marketing is extremely costly, the Government is making the most of the opportunities which are being provided to promote Guyana’s tourism products to the rest of the world.
The Prime Minister also applauded Mr. Charles, calling him a pioneer in showcasing Guyana’s tourism product. He said the “Sounds and Colours of the Rainforest” confirms Guyana’s reputation as a leader in ecotourism. PM Phillips said Mr. Charles’s videos represent a means of reaching the uninitiated.
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond told the gathering that the Ministry used the downtime brought on by the pandemic to focus on training and promotion.
“The vision is that there must be clearly established protocols to keep both visitors and locals safe when travelling resumes. Concomitantly, it was critical to spotlight our destination so that they could remain at the forefront of the minds of visitors waylaid by travel restrictions,” she said. Minister of Public Service, Hon. Sonia Parag, Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Hon. Pauline Sukhai and Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues also attended the launch.