Tourism Minister urges communities to take advantage of prospects to develop the sector
–as GTA launches Tourism Awareness Month
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) on Monday launched Tourism Awareness Month under the theme “Preparing for a New Frontier-Stimulating Innovation and New Businesses within the tourism sector” at the Bimichi Eco-Lodge, in St Cuthbert’s Mission.
Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond was at the launch, and noted the importance of facilities in the development of Guyana’s tourism products.
“These community owned and led tourism products are an indispensable component of the integrated strategy that we have for tourism in Guyana, and we consider them to be just as important as the internationally branded hotels that we are seeking to attract to our country, four of which are already in the advanced stages of development,” the tourism minister stated.
The minister said facilities supported under the community-owned initiative are integral to the broad-based economic development that government is working to realise across Guyana.
She noted too, that the launch of Tourism Awareness Month in the St. Cuthbert’s community is demonstration of the PPP/C Administration’s commitment to sustainable and inclusive economic and social development.
“Our integrated strategy is to make Guyana one of the leading destinations in the Americas for conventions, conferences and sporting events and we envisage that visitors to Guyana would wish to take that opportunity to stay that extra day, the extra weekend or even an extra week to unwind and experience what communities like this, St. Cuthbert’s have to offer the world.”
She also addressed Guyana’s efforts to advance the domestic tourism market, reiterating that the government is serious about inclusive development.
“We believe that every Guyanese, in every community, must have equal opportunities to benefit from the transformational growth that is already occurring in our economy.”
She encouraged persons to participate in the activities scheduled for the rest the month.
“Our country is uniquely positioned as a premier destination for eco-tourism with numerous eco lodges and camping sites, especially throughout the interior regions, with an understanding of the still untapped potential. The Government of Guyana will soon publish expressions of interest for the development of new eco lodges and resorts, offering attractive incentives. Communities like yours are already developing capabilities in this regard and I encourage you to take advantage of these opportunities as they arise,” she urged.
The tourism minister said the government has been offering incentives for persons interested in investing in the sector. To this end, at least four internationally branded hotels have begun construction here, with another to commence soon. Government has also engaged the Barbados Government to train 6,000 Guyanese to prepare for the hotel industry.
“International travel has resumed with the requisite protocols and many hotels are reporting improved occupancy; however, the harsh reality is that we continue to battle this dreaded corona virus and its attendant challenges.
We are still very much in uncharted territory but the tourism sector must continue to rebound, many individuals’ businesses and communities are depending on the sector, and the Government of Guyana will continue to do all that is possible to ensure the re-emergence of the industry,” Minister Walrond said.
GTA’s Deputy Director Kamrul Baksh said despite the effects of Covid-19, stakeholders have been resilient and strides have been made.
Activities planned for tourism awareness month include the Moraikobai safari, tour specials, media trips, restaurant week, commissioning of seven new tourism products and the Guyana Tourism Awards and other activities in all the administrative regions.
Monday’s launch also showcased traditional activities at St Cuthbert’s Mission.
Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Lennox Shuman, Former President of THAG Andrea De Caries and President of Visit Rupununi, Ms. Melanie Mc Turk also spoke at the event.