Rupununi tourism recovering well now that the worst of the pandemic is over 

The largest tourism circuit in Guyana, Rupununi, Region Nine has recovered well after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the President of Visit Rupununi, Melanie Mc Turk visitor numbers are up this season.

Melanie Mc Turk guides a group of tourism journalists on recent visit to a pond of Guyana’s National Flower the Victoria Regia Lily

“I think for most locations, this November is probably the most real tourist season they have seen and it’s a wonderful thing. We are sort of tired because we haven’t worked this hard in two years, but at the same time it’s wonderful to start seeing tourists again and to start seeing large groups,” she said.

In Guyana, the tourism sector, like the rest of the world, was devasted by the COVID-19 pandemic because of restrictions and the total shutdown of destinations.

Inside one of the cabins at Karanambu Lodge

However, a lot of work was done by the stakeholders in Guyana to ensure that these effects are cushioned and preparations are made to recover well when the time comes.

“We are very proud of the fact that so many of our businesses did survive the pandemic…And again, I think a lot of that comes down to the tremendous sense of community that exists in the Rupununi where people really and genuinely support each other and the sense of collaboration.”

The main benab at Karanambu Lodge

Mc Turk is also the owner of Karanambu Lodge and has been in the business of tourism for several years. The lodge is one of the oldest in the Rupununi, dating back to the 1920s.

Since venturing into tourism, Mc Turk has observed that the region has not only benefitted economically but its customs and traditions are appreciated more.

Tourism journalists visiting Yupukari 

“If you look at the North Rupununi in the last 20-30 years that we have had tourism, what we have seen is a re-emergence of culture, where once people didn’t want to speak Macushi and the cultural groups were languishing for people to join, now people are proud of being Macushi, they want to dress up for heritage months,” Mc Turk said.

But the re-emergence of culture also fascinates visitors to the region.

 “When tourists come, they are fascinated by this culture and that gives you a sense of pride and they are curious by this culture,” she said.

Turtle conservation project at Yupukari

Meanwhile, Visit Rupununi has been doing continuous training and capacity building with regional stakeholders with the support of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA).

One of the measures taken by the GTA to cushion the effects of the pandemic in the tourism sector, was to encourage more domestic tourism and their efforts have been successful, especially in the Rupununi.

Craft for sale at Yupukari created by the Wabbani Crafters

“One of the legacies of the pandemic is that we are seeing a lot more local tourists and Guyanese tourists than ever before and that’s a wonderful experience because we take joy in sharing Rupununi with others and even more joy in being able to share it with Guyanese”, she said.

Work was also done in developing the code of conduct for wildlife-friendly tourism.

“It starts with respect, respect for our national laws respect for our rules and respect for local customs and it ends with saying we want to make sure with everything we do benefits our communities and the people of the region,” Mc Turk noted.

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