Georgetown, GINA, November 10, 2013
President Donald Ramotar, accompanied by Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce (ag) Irfaan Ali and General Secretary of the Guyana Rice Producers‘ Association (GRPA), Dharamkumar Seeraj last evening livened up the inaugural Leguan Nite, singing two songs, one of which was ‘Leguan Baboo’.
Many congratulated the President for his performance as he conducted his usual meet and greet around the crowded community centre ground where the event was held.
President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce (ag) Irfaan Ali join the Shakti Strings Orchestra during a performance at Leguan Nite
Along the edges of the venue were booths to interest patrons while lucky ticket patrons stood a chance of leaving with a large sized iguana. The Shakti Strings Orchestra entertained the crowd.
Leguan Nite is the brainchild of Minister Irfaan Ali, a native of Leguan whose idea it is to build a unique tourism product in an area that has made a significant contribution to Guyana’s economy in the productive sector.
A Committee was subsequently formed comprising various stakeholders and planning of the event got underway.
The Leguan Nite pageant delegates on stage
Included on the agenda was a pageant contested by nine delegates who appeared before the audience and a panel of judges, introducing themselves, their platforms, and proud sponsors.
President Ramotar who frequented the island in the company of his father on business ventures as a young boy was pleased with the hosting of an event that is aimed at promoting community based tourism.
An almost identical event is hosted yearly on the nearby Wakenaam Island, attracting many over the years.
President Donald Ramotar greets patrons during the inaugural Leguan Nite
It is an initiative the government continues to encourage in rural areas, particularly those with potential tourism hotspots, to adopt, given its appeal to nature lovers from abroad who have grown too accustomed to sand and sea.
The Rew Eco-Lodge in the north Rupununi is a model example of a community based tourism product managed by residents of the area where fishing, hiking, birding and other adventures are enjoyed by many tourists.
In his address at the opening night, President Ramotar explained the new course on which the economy is heading, and the role the tourism sector is already playing.
President Donald Ramotar flanked by many during the inaugural Leguan Nite
“The base of our economy is now much broader; not only do we depend on sugar, rice and bauxite, but many other sectors have become important contributors… and have become new areas of growth and development in our society,” President Ramotar said.
With the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the construction of the Marriott International Hotel in the making and the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project for cheaper and reliable electricity, the Government is intending to expedite the process by which Guyana can further develop.
President Donald Ramotar speaking during the inaugural Leguan Nite
That process is however, being challenged by the political opposition exploiting its one seat majority in the Parliament. President Ramotar used the occasion to voice his disappointment over the vote against the anti-money laundering amendment bill, and the implications that will follow.
The opportunities Guyana may lose as a result of setbacks in the construction of the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project following the political opposition’s rejection of key pieces of legislation were also highlighted.
Nevertheless the residents were encouraged to look forward to a bright future and amid problems, be proud of the contribution the island has been making in the agriculture sector.
Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce (ag) Irfaan Ali addressing the large gathering at the opening of Leguan Nite
Leguan Secondary school made it in the category of top performing schools at the last Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) Exams with Alana Babulall copping 11 subjects, 10 of which were distinctions.