The Guyana Tourism Authority’s Half-year Sector Review Major Accomplishments Highlighted
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) has recently reached a significant milestone, celebrating its 21st anniversary. Established on June 11, 2022, the GTA has played a fundamental role in developing, regulating and promoting Guyana’s natural and cultural treasures to the world. Over the past two decades, the GTA has worked tirelessly to showcase the country’s unique blend of biodiversity, rich heritage, and warm hospitality.
Guyana’s approach to tourism emphasises its exceptional natural and cultural resources while prioritising preserving the environment and socio-economic well-being in the long run. Over time, GTA has achieved remarkable progress in establishing the country as a prominent tourist hotspot. So, as the GTA marks this milestone, it is an opportune time to reflect on some of its significant accomplishments over the last six months and what to look forward to in the future of tourism in Guyana.
Training & Capacity Building
Recognising the importance of improving the human resource capacity within the industry, the GTA has set ambitious goals to train a minimum of 2,000 individuals by the end of 2023. Focusing on priority areas, such as Health, Safety, Security & Environment, Delivering Quality Service, First Aid & CPR, and Introduction to Tourism and Mixology, Housekeeping and Tour Guiding, the GTA has since trained 1238 persons as of June 2023. These trainings ensure that tourism professionals possess the necessary competencies and knowledge to deliver exceptional experiences while upholding the highest safety and service quality standards.
This commitment to training enhances individual skills and contributes to the overall growth and success of the tourism industry in Guyana. Professionals are equipped to create safe and secure environments for visitors and locals in areas such as Health, Safety,Security & Environment and First Aid & CPR.
The emphasis on Delivering Quality Service ensures that tourism practitioners deliver exceptional experiences, fostering a positive image of Guyana. Furthermore, the Introduction to Tourism and Mixology training cultivates a deep understanding of the tourism industry and the art of mixology, fostering innovation and creativity within the sector.
Through continuous investment in training, the GTA will, without a doubt, foster highly skilled human resources capable of delivering exceptional experiences and driving the country towards a prosperous and sustainable future.
Officially licensed tourism businesses
The Guyana Tourism Authority Act 2002 stipulates that any tourism business under the categories: Tourism Accommodation Establishments, Interior Lodges/Resorts, Tourist Guides, and Tour Operators must be licensed. With 78 tourism stakeholders officially licensed as of June, the GTA is making commendable progress towards surpassing its target of licensing 100 tourism businesses by the end of 2023.
The GTA’s proactive approach in hosting licensing clinics in Georgetown and the interior region signifies its commitment to facilitating the licensing process and promoting compliance within the tourism sector. By collaborating with relevant governmental agencies and offering these informative clinics, the GTA ensured that stakeholders had the necessary knowledge and guidance to meet licensing requirements. There is no question that the seamless process facilitated by these clinics contributed to the total number of businesses licensed in the first half of this year. As a reminder, stakeholders must also take advantage of the Tourism Licensing Portal.
By amplifying the importance of the licensing process, the GTA will streamline compliance and professionalism within Guyana’s tourism industry.
Tourism Business Inspections
The GTA has been actively conducting nationwide inspection activities to enforce tourism business regulations and promote sustainable practices. These inspections ensure that tourism-focused businesses fully comply with the prescribed regulations. Through these inspections, the GTA assesses various aspects of the businesses, including their adherence to regulatory guidelines and implementation of sustainable business practices. By meeting the required standards, these businesses move closer to obtaining official licensing from the Authority. As of June, the GTA has successfully inspected 109 tourism businesses.
The GTA’s thorough and systematic approach ensures that only businesses that adhere to the highest standards are granted official licenses, enhancing the overall quality and credibility of the tourism offerings in the country.
Product Development – Community-based Tourism & Supporting the Private Sector
In its ongoing efforts to enhance and diversify Guyana’s tourism offerings, the GTA has set a priority for 2023 to establish more Indigenous community tourism enterprises. The focus will be on supporting communities in the South Rupununi, Region One Circuit, Region 10 Circuit, Essequibo Circuit, and the Berbice Circuit. This initiative aligns with the GTA’s commitment to developing community-led and owned tourism, which brings about positive economic, social, and environmental impacts for the communities involved.
The development of the Essequibo Circuit, in collaboration with the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana and Target Euro, is a specific focus for the GTA. The team also initiated the following, which are on schedule for a 2023 launch –
● Wilderness Trail Experience in Region 8 with licensed tour operator – Trail Masters Adventure Tours.
● Mahaica River Tours Product Refinement
● Adel’s Moruca Getaway Product Assessment
● Kayaking & Paddleboarding with Rupununi Adventures
● Katoonarib Product Assessment
● Aishalton Product Assessment
● Karrau Product Assessment
Notably, the GTA is proud to announce that since the current administration took office in August 2020, over 25 new tourism products across all ten administrative regions have been introduced to the domestic market. These figures highlight the Government of Guyana’s overall prioritisation of the tourism industry. The GTA aims to launch 15 new tourism experiences in 2023.
As an added measure to stimulate the development of new experiences, the Guyana Tourism Product Development Grant Programme was launched. This programme is open to all 2023 licensed tourism businesses who must be registered with the Guyana Tourism Authority within the last two years.
This Government initiative aims to strengthen and expand the tourism product portfolio. One million (GY$1,000,000) dollars will be allocated to successful applicants to create new tourism experiences. Projects can be of greater value; however, the applicant must cover all additional costs. Potential applicants can check the GTA’s Facebook page for more information and guidelines.
Visitor Arrivals and International Media Recognition
As Guyana continues to welcome international travellers seeking captivating tourism experiences, the GTA recorded that the current year-to-date for January-May 2023 (compared to the same period in 2022) stands at 18% (124,973). These figures were retrieved from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Eugene F. Correia International Airport, the Lethem Ports of Entry and the Moleson Creek Ferry Terminal. The total projected visitor arrivals for January-December 2023 is 335,873 (16.5% change from 2022).
More specifically, based on statistical projections by the GTA, the resumption of flights to Guyana through the British Airways connection will bring approximately 33,488 more travellers annually to Guyana, automatically increasing the country’s visitor arrival figures as penetration into existing and new markets is inevitable.
Additionally, as the country’s tourism potential continues to accrue commendable international media coverage, Trail Finders, one of the largest travel agents in the United Kingdom, has already started promoting five (5) holiday experiences in Guyana. Journey Latin America has also launched a new trip to Guyana. Additional recognitions include features in prominent international media publications, including Forbes, The Times, Telegraph, Daily Mail, and Worldly Adventurer.
These features highlight the diversity of experiences available in Guyana and reinforce the notion that strengthening bilateral relations with international world leaders will always yield positive results.
Additionally, the GTA hosted a media Familiarisation Trip with British Airways, creating a unique opportunity for participants to experience the magnitude of beauty Guyana embodies. The Authority also hosted well-known television personality and avid sport fisherman Robert
Arlington in March. During the second half of 2023, the GTA will host four additional familiarisation trips – two international groups, one diaspora and one influencer.
In the same vein of international recognition, the Guyana Tourism Authority was also awarded 2nd Runner-Up by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation in the Tourism Education & Training Award Category at the 2022 Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Awards for the efforts to advance the Caribbean’s Sustainable Tourism Product.
Iwokrama River Lodge, through the support of the Guyana Tourism Authority, was selected as a nominee for the 30th anniversary of the World Travel Awards under the ‘South America’s Leading Eco Lodge’ category. Details on voting are available on the Guyana Tourism Authority’s Facebook page.
Regional Marketing Partnerships
The GTA has actively engaged in strategic partnerships with neighbouring regional countries such as Cuba, Costa Rica and St Lucia to enhance tourism collaboration and promote cross-border visitation. These partnerships aim to create synergies and unlock the potential for joint marketing initiatives, shared tourism products, and seamless travel experiences. The decisions made following these visits will support Guyana’s goals to improve product development, amplify marketing and investment promotional efforts, advance standards and certification and support regional cooperation in conservation and protected areas management.
Destination Development Partnerships
Through its partnership with Environmental Management Consultants, the GTA has embarked on a series of destination development initiatives across the country over the past few months. More specifically, the team will conclude their partnership through a series of financial management training sessions in Santa Aratack Mission and Wakapau. Items to aid the villages in their developmental process will also be handed over.
Additionally, the GTA has since signed a Memorandum of Understanding with our partners at ActionINVEST Caribbean Inc. to host a Tourism & Hospitality Training Programmes series. More specifically, these programmes – the Level 3 Foundation Diploma in Hospitality & Tourism and Level 4 Diploma in Hospitality Management programmes were made possible through the Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality, a specialist awarding organisation offering vocational qualifications for the hospitality, culinary and tourism industries, worldwide. More importantly, as a result of a series of consultations, the courses under each programme will be guided by a dynamic group of lecturers from Barbados and Guyana. Promotional efforts are currently underway for this project.
International Market Representation Services
The GTA recently wrapped up its call for proposals for market representation services to amplify its international marketing efforts in Guyana’s source target markets – North America and Europe. Bids were officially opened on May 2, and a selection will be made after a thorough review of proposals. Once selected, the company will be expected to provide the services for 24 months, emphasising the country’s nature, adventure and culture-based tourism products.
As a result of this partnership, the GTA anticipates an increase in travel from these source markets, and investment opportunities will be high.
Speaking on the future of the tourism sector, the Director of the GTA, Mr Kamrul Baksh, had the following to say:
“The future of tourism holds immense promise, as we envision Guyana becoming a premier destination for discerning travellers seeking authentic and immersive experiences. We are poised to unlock new opportunities and shape a sustainable tourism landscape by harnessing our country’s rich natural and cultural heritage. With our commitment to community-led initiatives, environmental stewardship, and strategic partnerships, we are confident in creating a vibrant and inclusive tourism sector that will leave a positive and lasting impact on Guyana and its people.”
For more information, please contact Sade Cameron, Marketing & Communications Officer, at 611-2998 or email firstname.lastname@example.org