Tourism sector rebounded in 2021

The Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, has been at the forefront of development in Guyana, as the third largest exporter earner in Guyana after oil and natural resources.

For the year 2021, the ministry was allocated $2.74 billion in the national budget. Tourism Minister, Oneidge Walrond M.P. had said that sum would mostly aid the advancement of tourism in a Covid-19 environment and help businesses in the sector.

Small Business Support 

The Small Businesses Bureau (SBB) in 2021 conducted a series of outreaches, assisting small business owners with training, and importantly, small business grants of up to $500,000 and loans.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond M.P. poses with recipients of small business grants at Anna Regina, Region 2.

Region Two was one of the areas that benefitted from the outreaches. While there, Acting Chief Executive Officer of the SBB, Vanessa Thompson spoke of the intention of the agency to make loans and services more easily accessible to citizens.

Some Amerindian communities including Akiwini and Wakapoa also benefitted from the outreach as it gave them the opportunity to get registered with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) without the stress of travelling to the towns to do so.

Guyana National Bureau of Standards records successful 2021

The Guyana National Bureau of Standards (GNBS) opened new sub-offices in Regions Six, Seven and Eight, in an effort to decentralise services, and among other things, conduct verification of all measuring devices relative to trade, screen the 17 categories of products monitored by the GNBS and calibrate all high accuracy balances used in the gold industry.

The GNBS in 2021 established its Oil and Gas Department. Newly employed inspectors were trained to take up roles to be fully involved in monitoring the verification of custody transfer meters on the first FPSO, offshore.

First-Class Hotels

Guyana has, over recent years, been attracting numerous visitors to its shores for various reasons and this has placed a strain on the local accommodation sector, hence President Irfaan Ali committed to providing at least 2000 first class hotel rooms within five years.

H.E. President Irfaan Ali joins in turning the sod for a branded hotel in Georgetown.

The year 2021 saw the sod being officially turned for at least three hotels; Best Western, Hilton and Marriott Brands in various parts of the country.

President Ali while speaking at the event noted Guyana’s development must be government supported, private sector driven, people centered and results oriented, and reiterated the government’s commitment to creating a conducive and enabling environment for investors.

Support for tourism, businesses in the Rupununi

President Ali while meeting with Toshaos in Lethem, outlined plans to establish a tourism and business facilitation center in Region Nine, to help promote tourism and businesses in the region.

Rupununi in Region Nine has the largest tourist circuit in the country and tourism is one of the main drivers of the economy there.

Indigenous dancers treat visitors to a traditional night after being given conditional approval to host guests.

President Ali said resources will also be provided to facilitate marketing and product development in the region, and aid in the development of more eco-lodges there.

Hospitality Training

In late October, President Irfaan Ali announced that through a bilateral agreement, Barbados agreed to train 6,000 Guyanese in hospitality.

Minister Walrond in her remarks to mark the commencement of activities for Tourism Awareness month in November, noted that those trained will cater for the demand that will come from the hotels.

Minister Walrond observes stripping of the tibisiri at the Bimichi Eco Lodge as Tourism Awareness Month 2021 commenced.

Meanwhile, Minister Walrond told members of the media that the construction of the Hospitality Institute in Guyana, was being rescoped and will be bigger than initially intended to train more people.

Support for Tourism Businesses during the pandemic

It has been particularly tough for tourism businesses especially at the start of the pandemic. The eventual lockdown and travel restrictions that ensued caused the sector to be hard hit.

The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) has been working with the National Covid-19 task force to give conditional approval for tour operators follow certain guidelines.

To date, 15 tour operators, 7 tourism accommodation establishments (hotels, interior lodges/resorts) and 8 tourist guides were licenced by the GTA. Additionally, 56 tourism businesses were granted conditional approval for reopening.

Tourism Minister engages tourism stakeholders in region 10 as part of an outreach.

A total of 1,507 persons were trained for 2021 in the areas of Delivering Quality Service, First Aid & CPR, Culinary Arts, Green Events/Event Planning, Successful Taxi Driver and more importantly Hygiene & Sanitation protocols.

Creating more Tourist Experiences

The GTA has been working assiduously to ensure that businesses are supported and adapt to the changing environment in which they operate. As such, during Tourism Awareness Month, seven new experiential tourism products were launched: Warapoka, Santa Aratak, St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Bimichi Tours, Taste of Freedom, Fort Nassau Tours, and the Canje Sunset Tours.

Seeking Investments in Eco-Resorts

The government in late 2021 also published a request for proposals for eco-lodges in various parts of Guyana. Minister Walrond said these will be sustainable ventures that will fill the gap in luxury rooms.

Increase in Visitor Arrivals

The reopening of the international borders resulted in a stark improvement in the visitor arrival statistics when compared to 2020. As of September 2021, the total visitor arrival figure stood at 106,428, reflecting a 23% overall increase when compared to 2020. This contributed a total expenditure of approximately GY$24B to the local economy (up to September 2021) based on the average expenditure per visitor per type at US$1,060.

International Recognition

Destination Guyana received a number of international features, some of which include the following: – 9 Sustainable Experiences in Latin America for 2021 – Wanderlust Mag – Top 20 destinations to visit in 2021 – Condé Nast Traveler – Community-led and owned Tourism: How Guyana’s own brand of sustainable destination management is helping indigenous communities thrive – WTM Hub – FORBES’ Top 50 Best Places to Visit Post Pandemic – Forbes, among other notable features.

More to Come

In December, the GTA awarded entities and individuals in the sector, for outstanding achievements.