Local tourism stakeholders celebrate Eco-Tourism award

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q2gzCHi344″ width=”100%” height=”315″]

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, March 12, 2019

In what is a major boost to the local tourism sector, on March 6, Guyana was named the number one “Best of Ecotourism” destination in the world at the ITB Global Travel Trade Fair in Berlin, Germany.

The award was presented to the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, Brian Mullis.

Local tourism stakeholders, on Monday evening, gathered at the Cara Lodge to celebrate the great accomplishment. Mullis told the gathering that the award puts Guyana ahead of ecotourism destinations like Sierra Gorda in Mexico, Tmatboey in Cambodia and the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador.

“The judges told us that we were recognised because of our holistic approach to sustainable management and development, our exemplary now world-renowned, community-led and owned tourism enterprises, Rewa and Surama, and things like our national policy for pursuing a green state development strategy,” Mullis said.

He noted that being distinguished as a leading sustainable destination “is both a great honour and a great responsibility. We cannot afford to rest on our laurels, we have to continue to significantly advance our efforts to on the best.”

The GTA director also acknowledged that there is room for improvement in areas of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the lodges, waste management across the country, managing wildlife trade and adopting alternative mining practices among others.

Minister of Business, with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin commended those who worked hard over the years to develop the award-winning tourism product. “I think we need to build on this achievement. It is not the end of the road by any stretch of the imagination. I think it should inspire us to further work to achieve even greater heights for Guyana’s tourism industry.”

President of the Green Destinations Foundation, Albert Salman had said in an interview, that the Top 100 Awards jury was impressed by the dossier prepared by the Guyana Tourism Authority for the nomination and by the success stories submitted of Surama and Rewa. He noted the eco-lodges have ambitious and admirable goals and successes, are community-owned and led, and aim at preserving Guyana’s ecosystems and Indigenous traditions.

The jury was also impressed by Guyana’s policy of a ‘Green, Inclusive and Prosperous Guyana’.

The event was also attended by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock who noted that there were struggles finding markets for the tourism product, but that has now changed with the help of Brian Mullis.

“On several occasions, I have had persons who I thought would give the encouragement to us as communities trying to get organised to meet that destination or meet that level where we could have been able to sell our products. Instead, you would hear that we are not ready, we’re not ready for tourism, where are your five star and ten-star hotels? Where are your roads and your limousines? Where is everything else? But should we wait, when will we start? And the communities started in their own little way, some twenty years or more ago and it is paying off.”

Minister Allicock commended the tour operators and urged that policies be implemented that will see the protection of Guyana’s forest and biodiversity to remain sustainable.

Guyana was also named one of the top ten sustainable destinations in the world and has the Best Destination Video. The second annual “Best of Top 100” Awards is a selection of the finest top 100 destinations selected by a panel of experts who reviewed sustainability success stories submitted by destinations worldwide.

The ITB Berlin (Internationale Tourismus-Börse Berlin) is the world’s largest tourism trade fair. The companies represented at the fair include hotels, tourist boards, tour operators, system providers, airlines and car rental companies. The ITB Berlin takes place annually in March at the Messe Berlin.

Natasha Smith

Images: Jules Gibson