NEC to be converted into modern exhibition space
GINA, GUYANA, Monday, December, 2016
Of the sum of $1.7 Billion allocated to the Ministry of Business in the 2017 Budget, $329M has been earmarked for initiatives to develop the tourism sector.
Minister of Business with the responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin, during the debates on the 2017 Budget which began today, highlighted that $70M has been allocated for the general upgrade to the National Exhibition Centre (NEC), so that the facility can assume a prominent role in the growth and development of local businesses.
The rebuilding of the annex, which has traditionally housed companies and small businesses from the agro-processing and the arts and craft sectors, during GuyExpo will be a priority, Minister Gaskin said.
The physical structure had to be demolished in 2015 due to its dilapidated condition, and the hazards it presented to occupants.
Minister Gaskin said the rebuilding of this structure will provide a modern exhibition space that will enhance the experiences of both exhibitors and visitors, while saving on the cost of renting tents every time there is an event.
“The development of the entire National Exhibition Centre compound will create an environmentally friendly urban setting for the hosting of indoor and outdoor business events.”
The Minister explained that, business expositions and trade fairs are an important way of showcasing and promoting the various products and services offered in a particular country, region or economic sector. These can take many forms, but ultimately they are intended to connect businesses with relevant partners, clients, and suppliers among others.
The NEC in Sophia successfully hosted GuyExpo 2016 in May of this year, to coincide with the country’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. The event was held for four days under the theme “50 Years, Guyana Means Business – Promoting Enterprise, Driving Productivity”.
The Business Minister pointed out that, hundreds of local and foreign exhibitors, thousands of patrons, many sponsors and other key stakeholders came together to ensure the successful hosting of GuyExpo as part of the 50th Independence celebrations.
Minister Gaskin said that the NEC is still the logical first choice for any large-scale activities of this nature. “We live with heavy rains and blazing sunshine and our national facilities must be outfitted for these conditions. Unfortunately the National Exhibition Centre has not been regularly upgraded to meet the demands of a modern exposition site,” the Minister said.
‘Over the last 50 years, Guyana’s economy has not become sufficiently diversified to sustain growth and development over the long-term and this is reflected at our business expositions. The National Exhibition Centre aims to provide entrepreneurs and existing businesses with an opportunity to engage meaningfully with relevant stakeholders in a setting that is conducive to doing business,” Minister Gaskin said.
The Jubilee anniversary celebrations have come and gone, and it is now time for GuyExpo to become a catalyst for business development and be able to attract regional businesses on a serious level.
Additionally, the allocation will also fund the implementation of the National Tourism Policy through the work of the Department and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Minister Gaskin said.
The National Tourism Policy has been drafted and is receiving the benefit of consultations prior to its final adoption. These consultations will be used to raise awareness nationally of the value of the industry, and the opportunities it can create, the Minister said.
The GTA, will continue to expand its marketing and product development initiatives to include development of new niche product experiences such as photography tours, responsible tourism and green tourism initiatives, he stated.
Increased training and capacity building; creation of a new destination DVD, digital marketing campaigns, market representation, increased participation at key travel trade shows and hosting of travel trade and media Familiarisation Tours (FAM) will also be done to expand Guyana’s distribution channels and gain international exposure.
The Business Minister said that he has great confidence in the business community and the expectation of improved growth in 2017, based on current projections.
One of Guyana’s most precious natural resources is its vast unspoiled hinterland which never fails to impress those visiting Guyana for the first time, Gaskin said, as he referenced His Royal Highness, Prince Harry’s recent visit.
The Minister said that the tourism destination that Guyana can become, needs to be deliberately developed with an understanding of how the international tourism industry works.
“By now Guyana would have learnt that simply having something of value does not guarantee that the value will be realised. Tourism must first be recognised by all Guyanese as a value-added export that can add diversity to our economy and contribute significantly to Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” Minister Gaskin told the National Assembly.
The year 2016 has been a record one for arrivals, increased occupancy in hotels and investments in the sector, including increase in the number of international airlines serving Guyana, paving the way for tourism to increase its contribution to Guyana’s GDP growth.
The targeted 3.8 percent growth rate demands confidence in the economy at all levels and Guyanese should avoid the temptation to talk themselves out of the good life, Gaskin encouraged.
He concluded that Budget 2017 depicts a good life for all Guyanese and “this is what we must all work to achieve.”
By: Gabreila Patram