Head of THAG optimistic about sector’s rebound
DPI, Guyana, Sunday, August 16, 2020
President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar, is optimistic about the sector’s rebound.
Speaking to the Department of Public Information, Mr. Ramkumar expressed his appreciation to the new Tourism and Commerce Minister, Hon. Oneidge Walrond, for meeting with him earlier in the week to discuss issues relating to the sector and for “reviewing the proposals in detail and having a first-hand understanding of the challenges that the sector faces and what measures we would like to see put in place for the safe reopening of the sector”.
A day after being sworn in, His Excellency, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, President of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, engaged members of the private sector at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), where he asked that the various industries state what support they would need for the reopening of their sectors.
According to Mr. Ramkumar, it was based on the meeting which THAG “fine-tuned” its proposals, and subsequently handed it to the Tourism Minister.
The proposal includes COVID-19 compliance and supplies relief, Financial and tax relief for Tourism businesses, among others.
“I am happy that our proposal is being raised at the highest level of Government. We are heartened by it, and we look forward to receiving some kind of relief and support for the sector,” Mr. Ramkumar said.
According to the THAG president, the industry is still suffering, but there is hope.
“The membership of THAG, and as an industry – we were happy that Guyana was able to come through the political crisis that we were in, because that affects tourism as well, so we are happy that we are now at a place where we are politically stable.”
However, the COVID-19 pandemic remains the biggest challenge affecting the sector, particularly its human resource.
“We would have already had a lot of information and data as it relates to the challenges the industry faces. People are really on the bread line, I’m speaking about individuals that depended on tourism businesses, and it’s not Central Georgetown alone, it’s all in the outlying regions, a lot of these areas would have been depending on community tourism for their survival,” Mr. Ramkumar noted.
He added that the support would keep people in the business of Tourism instead of them having to migrate to other sectors causing a ‘drain’ in the tourism industry.
Mr. Ramkumar noted that 2020 was projected to be an exciting year for tourism in Guyana, with the rave reviews it received in 2019, and with Guyana being listed as being one of the best places to visit in 2020 by Conde Nast Traveler, among other endorsements.
The highly expected spike in visitor arrivals never came to fruition because of the pandemic, and as a result, the sector lost billions.
However, THAG president is optimistic of a comeback.
“The industry will rebound. We are here for the long haul, but we need support from Central Government,” he said.
Tourism, worldwide, has been the hardest-hit industry, and Guyana is no different, but Mr. Rajkumar is hopeful that the industry will get the support needed, especially with the New Head of State who is a former Minister of Tourism.