Services, programmes in tourism industry continue to benefit all Guyanese
− Min Walrond highlights importance of inclusion in sector
Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond says the government continues to ensure that the services delivered and programmes implemented in the tourism sector benefit all Guyanese.
The minister was speaking at an activity hosted by the US Ambassador to Guyana, Sarah-Ann Lynch in observance of World Tourism Day 2022, which is being held under the theme, ‘Re-thinking Tourism’.
She noted that the ministry has supported tourism development efforts in all regions with hundreds of small business owners from all sections of the Guyanese society benefitting from targeted interventions.
The minister said Guyana is already on course to “re-thinking” what is needed in the industry. She pointed out that tourism is one of the sectors on which strategic focus has been placed for the diversification of the economy.
“This year’s theme urges us to critically evaluate our concept of and approach to tourism in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, which unarguably had a massive impact on the industry globally.”
However, the minister noted that much of this “re-thinking” has been the subject of discussion in the industry for many years.
She noted the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken that showed what was possible.
“The pandemic experience, constituted a powerful enabler and driver of change and it is this driving force that is behind the call for re-thinking tourism.”
Despite the pandemic, the minister said the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the World Tourism Organisation of the United Nations had previously advocated for tourism with a sustainable and inclusive focus.
“Many of our core eco-tourism offerings take place in the open spaces that are envisioned in the “re-thinking”. The new emphasis on rural development is well exemplified by our community-based tourism. Most importantly, the targeting of broad-based benefit is reflected in our active development of tourism events to benefit all segments of the business landscape from the large firm to the micro-enterprise to the individual sole proprietor,” Minister Walrond stated.
Further, she explained the work that has been done to foster community-led tourism development in Guyana.
“In these initiatives, offered primarily in our Indigenous communities, residents own and operate the tourism product. The facilities and activities are fully integrated into the way of life of the community and visitors obtain authentic experiences of what it means to live in a sustainable manner.
“Particular care is taken in these settings that the product is well in line with community values, that it does not disturb community well-being, and that on the contrary, that there is a respectful and productive engagement between visitor and community that results in mutual benefit.”
The Caribbean Premier League was highlighted as an example of ‘Re-thinking Tourism’ in the context of inclusion.
“Our government was instrumental in pursuing and supporting Guyana’s bid to host the finals of the Caribbean Premier League. Pursuing this opportunity required courage and vision, for when we did so the potential benefits were not apparent to most people.
“The situation was that the CPL had been played in empty stadia in 2020 with a modest revival in 2021. Stringent travel restrictions were still in place in most countries of the world and the Omicron variant threatened to occasion a return to lockdowns. Thus, the commitment to hosting the CPL finals was a significant undertaking attended to by considerable risk and uncertainty.”
The minister pointed to the wider benefits that can be derived from the event and activities surrounding it.
The bed and breakfast initiative provides a way for businesses to benefit, as many persons took advantage of the opportunity to provide this service.
The One Guyana festival and the Regional Food Festival also attracted hundreds of exhibitors.
“CPL Cricket Carnival is but one event. We plan to consistently bring several such major events each year to our shores. Thus, with a deliberate policy of inclusion, aimed at delivering broad-based benefit, we incrementally increase the opportunities to a wide cross-section of Guyanese for the benefit of the collective,” the tourism minister highlighted.
She also noted the benefits from the CPL that extended to the many entertainment and cultural events which brought earnings and exposure to artists and promoters, providers of goods and services such as taxi drivers, restauranteurs, caterers, farmers and a whole host of Guyanese.
The minister believes that Guyana is on the right track to building a sustainable tourism industry.
“I’m confident that we are on the right track, work to do still, but firmly on a course to build a sustainable tourism industry that will be one of the pillars of our economy as we pursue our aspiration of One Guyana.”