Right people needed to make tourism big – Minister Gaskin
GINA, GUYANA. Monday, November 21, 2016
Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin has said that tourism will only be big in Guyana when the right people make it happen.
Gaskin was at the time delivering the feature address at the launch of the eighteenth edition of the ‘Explore Guyana’ magazine at the Umana Yana on Saturday.
The Minister noted that tourism can be huge, and opined that Guyana can receive about 800,000 visitors by the year 2025.
Gaskin pointed out that local tourism is on a sustainable path and Guyana has a lot to offer. The country needs to promote the development of all areas where opportunities exist in tourism, the Minister noted. This will allow tourism to grow incrementally and provide the back bone for the industry’s sustainability.
As it relates to investors, Gaskin said that “the right people are the people with the money, whether it’s oil or gold; the right people are those who are prepared to take the risk and put very big money into a project or venture that will not yield returns in the short term, of course you have to have the right Government in place and I am happy to say that we have that now.”
The minister added that the Government recognises that private sector investment will ultimately develop the country under sound laws and regulations that are properly implemented.
The Business Minister explained that without big investments in tourism, there will be no big tourism in Guyana. “Investors want to know about specific opportunities and specific projects; we have to put these on the table…There needs to be a new approach, to connect investors with real opportunities. Real projects have to be conceived and they have to receive the attention of the right people. We have to be bold in our approach,” the Minister explained.
Speaking about the National Tourism Policy that will soon be in place, and its impact on the emerging oil and gas sector, Gaskin said, the impact of this new industry will be transformational for Guyana. However, he noted that “we must be very careful that we do not allow all our eggs to be accumulated in one basket and become too dependent on this commodity.”
Gaskin also pointed out that the Government is pursuing the development of a wider range of economic activities so that foreign currency can come into the economy, so that the country becomes less vulnerable to fluctuating commodity prices that are set on international markets.
“In other words while we welcome and while we need all the benefits oil can bring to Guyana, we cannot afford to be totally dependent on this one commodity, and this could very well happen if the right action is not taken,” the Minister said.
Noting that Guyana does not have the commodities of scale yet to become the competitive tourism destination the country needs, Gaskin pointed out that with the tourism product that Guyana has, it will be unforgivable not to share it with the world in the biggest way possible while preserving the country’s natural beauty for generations to come.
Explore Guyana 2017
In closing, the minister commended the Tourism and Hospitality Association (THAG) for bringing to life yet another edition of Explore Guyana which is a very valuable tourism tool. He said that the magazine captures the stories that need to be told about Guyana and it is heartwarming to know that there’s still a group of people who are committed to make Explore Guyana a reality, year after year.
President of THAG, Andera de Caires said that it has been 18 years since the association has been producing magazines. De Caires told the gathering she was “delighted to say that there was not a single copy left of the magazine in London” where it was launched last week at the largest trade show, the World Travel Market (WTM).
De Caires, giving an insight about the magazine said that this year they chose articles that appeal to adventure travel such as the overland trip to Kaieteur falls, the search for the biggest cat fish in the world, and a beautiful article on the mighty Essequibo River among others.
The THAG President pointed out that Guyana is the only country in South America that has two easily accessible active Harpy Eagle nests, one in Warapoka, Region One and the other in Surama, Region Nine.
De Caires said, “Our people, our wildlife, our beautiful pristine country are reasons to come, however we must meet the international tourist if we were to compete. Coming to Guyana is expensive and many of our tourists save their money so that they can come and visit,” the THAG President said.
De Caires said that the best marketing tool is a good recommendation and that tourism should be treated as a profession and not a side benefit.
By Gabreila Patram