Today Guyana joins the rest of the world in celebration of World Tourism Day. It was 37 years ago that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) observed its first World Tourism Day in order to bring to the attention of the world the importance of travel and its impact upon the economies of countries worldwide. Since 1980 international tourism has gathered momentum, surviving wars, health crises, global economic downturns and terrorism. Travel and tourism have made the world a smaller but richer and more diverse place, creating hitherto unimagined cultural encounters and international experiences.

Increasingly, as concerns have grown about the health of the environment and indeed the very longevity of the planet, tourism has been enlisted as a force to generate positive change in our approaches to development, and indeed, in the way we interact with the environment. The concepts sustainable tourism and responsible tourism came into vogue to address, and propose responses to, what appeared to be a decline in environmental care.

Guyana, a relative newcomer to the family of global tourism destinations, is comfortable in this new tourism dispensation. Committed as it is to the development of a Green State, Guyana views tourism in terms of the theme highlighted for World Tourism Day 2017 – Sustainable Tourism as a Tool for Development.  The Draft National Tourism Policy places emphasis upon this form of tourism as the one best suited to the achievement of the objectives of Green State development.

Sadly, World Tourism Day 2017 occurs at a time when several sister Caribbean countries are suffering the harsh impacts of the year’s hurricane season. The devastation visited, strikes at the heart of the very industry that has been the main pillar of those economies and has even prompted some dire reflections upon the prospects for the very sustainability of the industry in particularly vulnerable regions of the Caribbean.

Therefore, in as much as we celebrate tourism today and trumpet its benefits, it is necessary to craft strategies to strengthen our resilience in the face of climatic events.

Dominic Gaskin

Minister of Business and Tourism



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