Region Nine aggressively becoming a tourism powerhouse

Gov’t keen on providing resources  

With Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) aggressively becoming one of Guyana’s destinations for tourism experience and pleasure, the government is keen on providing the necessary support until the mission is achieved.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond made the disclosure as she delivered the keynote address at the recently concluded Rupununi Business and Investment Exposition 2022 in Lethem.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

“I say to you, that our presence here today and our support for the Rupununi expo is because of our belief that the development must occur in every village, every town, and every region of our country, and Region Nine is no exception,’ the minister noted.

From January 2022 to date, the tourism ministry has distributed over 36 grants valued at approximately $17 million to develop small businesses in Region Nine.

Minister Walrond believes that the move is a step towards sustainable business and employment throughout the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo district.

Minister of Housing and Water, Collin Croal

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) opened an office in Lethem only two weeks ago, providing residents with most of the services offered in Georgetown.

With the established new GNBS outpost, residents are no longer forced to travel to the capital city at tremendous cost or wait for officers to access the services of the bureau.

Minister Walrond also disclosed that last year the ministry supported the launch of a tourism and business centre in the vicinity of the airport, which is aimed at providing tourist information to visitors, as well as business and marketing support to tourism stakeholders.

CEO of GO-Invest, Dr Peter Ramsaroop

Additionally, the ministry has invested heavily in community-based and community-led tourism initiatives in the region which have now become a model for many other areas.

“Our government remains committed to small business development all over the country, including here in Region Nine. We continue to support our small and micro enterprises. This is evidenced by the tangible support we have offered small businesses in the region,” she added.

The government has also invested substantially in the establishment of a 55-acre Lethem industrial estate with about 92 plots available.

Rupununi Business and Investment Exposition 2022

When the facility is fully operationalised, the estate will be a hub for industrial activity in the region.

Ensuring easy travel, comfortable stay

Meanwhile, the government has secured over US $100 million for the segment of the Linden to Mabura Hill road which is currently under construction.

Rupununi Business and Investment Exposition 2022

The all-weather road will be 121 kilometres long and 7.2 metres wide with a two-lane carriageway. It will feature a shared cycle and pedestrian lane measuring two metres wide, along with 10 bus stops outfitted with ramps for persons living with disabilities.

A number of bridges and culverts will be replaced.

Minister Walrond said when the multi-million road project is completed, it will be a transformational catalyst for industry and commerce between Region Nine and the Coast and even the wider world.

She noted also that funds are being sought to build a solid thoroughfare from Linden to Mabura.

“We are also committed to the paving of all roads in the township of Lethem,” the minister added.

Only recently, President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali allocated some $600 million to aid in the construction of 600 homes in the region in several areas.

Rupununi Business and Investment Exposition 2022

The remarkable undertaking provides financial support to hundreds of potential homeowners there, as well as much needed boost to the construction industry.

Other developments

Additionally, the government has negotiated with commercial banks to offer loans to home builders at an interest rate of 3.5 per cent, thus bringing access to credit within the means of many who otherwise are not able to get loans.

Some 2,000 residents of the region have benefitted from the PPP/C Administration’s part-time jobs initiative which was rolled out throughout the country.

With respect to power generation, residents witnessed a one-megawatt solar power facility commissioned in the region’s capital just three months ago. The facility will be complemented by the construction of a 2.2-megawatt hydropower facility at Kumu and Moco Moco.

Minister Walrond underscored that the investments collectively represent a total of $2.7 billion, explaining that they will place the region at the forefront of the renewable energy thrust and the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS).

Rupununi Business and Investment Exposition 2022

“We have and shall continue to provide monetary and other support to events like Rupununi Rodeo and this very expo as part of the government’s contribution to the development of commerce, trade and tourism in Region Nine.”

Meanwhile, the exposition is a two-decade-old event organised by the Rupununi Chambers of Commerce and Industry (RCCI). The much-anticipated event is part of the RCCI’s mission to strengthen and promote the economic, social and cultural well-being of communities.

The contemporary expo generates interest, not only within Region Nine but participation from other regions in Guyana, Brazil and even the Caribbean.