Digitised Visitor Exit Motivation Survey Launched at Eugene F. Correia Int’l Airport

The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, on Tuesday launched the first digitised Visitor Exit Motivation Survey (VEMS) at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport.

Minister, Oneidge Walrond M.P. could not attend the event, but in a statement to mark the occasion, congratulated the Bureau of Statistics and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) on the launch, which will replace the manual survey conducted by the Bureau of Statistics at the Eugene F. Correia International Airport and at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport by early 2022.

Kamrul Baksh Acting Director, GTA.

The survey itself (digital or otherwise) is critically important for us in the policy sphere since there is a temptation sometimes to formulate and implement policy based on perception.

However, we as a government firmly believe in evidence-based policy making and implementation.  That is to say, that the decisions that we take must be based on reliable data, assimilated into information, synthesised by rigorous analysis into knowledge and leading through understanding to wisdom.”

The minister’s said while the task is to develop Guyana’s tourism product, to do that “we must first know where we are with our product and why we are where we are.

This knowledge starts with collecting the data regarding the visitor experience and this is what the Visitor Exit Motivation Survey represents to me.  That first but indispensable step in the knowledge hierarchy – that is the collection of reliable data.” 

Ian Manifold, Deputy Chief Statistician, Bureau of Statistics.

We wish to know who our visitors are, where they came from, what they did when they were here.  What they did not do that they would have liked to.  Where did they go? Where did they not go? What did they like about our country – just as importantly what did they not like.  Armed with this data, we can assimilate and aggregate it into information.  Following this we can delve into it to discern trends and finally, it would be the job of the policy makers to draw on their knowledge and experience…to make sensible decisions and judgments about where we need to take our tourism product and how to get us to that objective.”

The minister noted that feedback is important as information could be used to make wise decisions and improve offerings.

The VEM Survey will capture data on traveler’s experiences in Guyana in areas ranging from accommodation to expenditure, which will help policy makers better understand the contribution of tourism to Guyana’s economic growth and development.

“The survey will also provide statistically sound and internationally comparable data.  This data is essential for developing evidence-based policies and programmes for the improvement and development of the tourism product,” Minister Walrond noted.

“We don’t just want to develop products. Ultimately, we want these products to be impactful in terms of appeal and in order to have that assurance we must gather the data.  There is an old management adage which says “you cannot manage that which you do not measure.”

“The VEMS started in 1993 when the Caribbean Tourism Organisation executed the 1993/1994 survey with the report being printed in 1995,” explained Mr. Ian Manifold, Deputy Chief Statistician, Bureau of Statistics.

He said the digitised format will replace in-person interviews with visitors to Guyana conducted by enumerators, with visitors now being able to respond to the survey by phone.

Rubina Sulaman, airport manager said the survey will enhance the operations at the airport and stimulate further discussions around digitising other initiatives for the airport.

She also welcomed the “free WIFI” for departing visitors.

Acting Director of the GTA, Mr. Kamrul Baksh alluded that there is more to come.

“I recall very fondly, in 2018 we started information capture as well, for strategic visitor flows for both out here on the coast and Lethem, in the Rupununi, which are two of the major tourism corridors so that project was aimed at understanding the motivation, as to why they are entering these tourism circuits, and as a result of that, we were able to prioritise certain infrastructure, road networks, docks and so forth.”

He emphasised that VEMS is a platform to establish a tourism satellite account, which will hopefully be achieved by 2025.   

“The tourism satellite account which consists of a series of tables, will allow us to capture information in the domestic market, investments, also for expenditure data and others, so that we can quantify, the economic contribution of tourism to the GDP, that is in short what we want to achieve here,” Baksh said.

He noted that it is the first in the Caribbean to incentivise the VEMS with free WIFI and will be replicated at other ports of entry.

The survey can be done in one of five languages, English, French, Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese and will be accessed when persons use the free WIFI.

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