Government working to boost agro-tourism in Guyana

The partnership between Guyana’s Agriculture and Tourism sectors will be strengthened to enhance the resilience and sustainability of the agro-tourism economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond on Tuesday said that agro-tourism is a viable mechanism to develop the tourism sector.

To this end, she said an agro-tourism working group will be created with representatives across the various sectors to establish collaborations between agriculture and tourism.

The Minister was addressing a webinar hosted by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), themed, “linking with agriculture for a more sustainable tourism sector in Guyana beyond COVID.”

“Guyana is known to have one of the largest agriculture economies. It is also one of the top eco destinations with our pristine non-touched lands, and agro-tourism will continue to contribute to the economic development as farmers receive additional income, local and rural infrastructure, enhanced with utilities and communication,” she said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha who was among the panellists, said the joint efforts by the two sectors will increase productivity and create more jobs.

“Agro-tourism offers farmers the possibility of diversifying and generating additional income on farm tourism activities in order to help supplement their agricultural income and maintain the viability of farms and rural community,” Minister Mustapha said.

He reiterated his Ministry’s importance to Guyana’s economy, while noting his determination to return Guyana as the bread basket of the Caribbean.

In 2019, US $352.6 million of Guyana’s export earnings came from agriculture. Due to the pandemic, 70 per cent of cash crop farmers and fisheries reported an overall reduction and a 20-50 per cent income loss in 2020, compared to 2019.

Despite the adverse impacts of the pandemic, it has also provided avenues to create innovative ways to develop the sector in a sustainable manner, the Minister said.

Meanwhile, Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Secretary General (Ag.) Mr. Neil Walters explained that based on information received from member countries between January to August, the CTO’s estimates a 63.7 per cent decline or 14.3 million fewer trips of international arrivals into the Caribbean, compared to 2019. Cruise arrivals also declined by 58.7 per cent with 8.5 million cruise visitors to the region. There is a projected 50-70 per cent reduction in arrivals by year end.

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