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Growth of Guyana’s Tourism Sector poised to take quantum leap in 2016

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If there was ever a time in the expansion of Guyana’s Tourism where it can be said that the sector was poised to take a quantum leap, that time is now. This sector has seen an increase in its budgetary allocations from $214.6 million in 2015 to $312.7 million in 2016.

This represents a $98.1 million or 45.7 percent increase in direct allocations to the Tourism Sector through the Ministry and Guyana Tourism Authority – the GTA.

The hard work of our tourism stakeholders and organisations like the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana that started decades ago is now receiving real government support and focus is finally beginning to pay off.  And the Ministry of Tourism, aligned with the Guyana Tourism Authority, has embarked upon a number of transformational initiatives.

The National Competitive Strategy report of  May 2013  stated that the total direct value  of all tourism and hospitality sector activities generated by the total number of visitors visiting Guyana  may have a value of US $ 214, 874,091 dollars or 8.3 percent of GDP.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) estimates tourism’s contribution to Guyana’s GDP at 8.9 percent.Whichever it is, it is clear that tourism is making a huge impact on our country and has the potential to be one of the leading sectors and largest employer of persons especially our young people.

With its whopping budgetary allocation this year, it is hoped that the Ministry

will be able to continue its policy in terms of marketing and promotion of the destination, of regulation of the sector, of tourism developments in priority areas to boost competitiveness and export readiness.

A significantly enhanced marketing program including Rebranding, Repositioning and Renewal of destination Guyana, South America Undiscovered will combine awareness of the benefits of travel with exciting destinations and product offerings.

The NewsRoom understands that the Market Execution Strategy of the Ministry adopts a Three-Channel Targeted Approach. The sales and marketing outcomes fall within three areas: Consumer and diasporic (includes social marketing), Travel trade development and Media relations/PR activities.

 

The overarching framework within which these developments are to take place is the Guyana National Tourism Policy. Completed in January of this year, this Tourism Policy is a distillation of what consultants, stakeholders and tourism operatives have been recommending for over two decades and will guide the industry’s continued expansion.

This document has been shared with industry stakeholders for their comments and will be laid in the National Assembly as soon as this process is completed.

In addition to this, Government is adding the finishing touches on its National Ecotourism policy  which recognises this important niche within which we have a strong competitive advantage.

Furthermore, as the sector continues to gear for rapid development, the Ministry is moving aggressively to measure tourism’s contribution to Guyana’s GDP. In November last year Government established a Tourism Satellite Accounting sub-committee.

With regard to , Tourism Intelligence, Government said that it is committed to research based decision making and to this end, has subscribed to a Tourism Intelligence Centre Platform for one year with five user access. The Ministry of Tourism and the Bureau of Statistics have also been granted user access to available data and trends.

As for the digital marketing platform, Government has engaged the TRIP ADVISOR which is a global marketing communication platform. It did so to be able to conduct targeted marketing of key generating and emerging geographic markets which include the USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Holland and South America and niche segments such as birding, wildlife, adventure, Community Based Tourism, sport fishing, indigenous, heritage, culture)

 

It is the toolkit of assets that the markets use to create and enhance favourable perceptions of Guyana by delivering value propositions and unique selling points to targeted customer segments.

 

Expected outcomes of the Global Marketing Communications platform include improved brand relevance among target travelers in primary, secondary and emerging markets, making Guyana a more compelling destination and improved campaign impact and influence, moving the traveler further down the path to purchase.

An MOU has also been signed between Guyana and Barbados Joint Commission (Travel and Tourism). This will allow for improved interagency relations with regards to information sharing, strengthened bilateral relations, creation of opportunities for multi destination packaging, capacity building (public/private sector), formulation of mutually beneficial links among operators in both countries and joint marketing efforts among other things.

 

Several hotels and the Carnegie School of Home economics benefitted from hotel and hospitality training at the reputable CRANE Hotel in Barbados last year. Another batch of hotel employees will be trained in Barbados. A delegation from Barbados will be on a familiarization trip in Guyana to network with tourism stakeholders and to experience and observe Community Based Tourism as practiced in Guyana.

 

A reciprocal visit of Guyanese tourism stakeholders (Peer/Attraction Evaluation Exercise) to observe world-class attractions in Barbados is also planned.This will help to boost our product attractiveness, competitiveness and marketability.   At the end of the day this multi destination marketing approach will bring tourists from the UK where Barbados’ airlift has a huge advantage to enjoy the tranquillity of Barbados and then the adventure and magnificence that is Guyana.

 

According to Minister of Tourism Mrs. Cathy Hughes, participation at key travel trade shows has been and will continue to be one of our most important marketing strategies.

She said that being in the marketplace is critical to the success as a destination. Trade shows provide the business to consumer and business to business platforms, to meet and network with travel professionals, learn about travel trends, generate low cost high quality sales leads, negotiate business deals, expand distribution network, study the competition, create destination awareness and to stay in touch with customers.

 

The Minister noted that a successful and impactful Sales Blitz in Trinidad in was held in late January. And the Ministry last year did visits to tourism officials and trade operators in Suriname, French Guiana, Curacao, and London. Similar Sales Blitzes and Road Shows are planned for key diasporic markets as well as we celebrate Guyana’s Golden Jubilee Anniversary.

 

Hughes intimated that Ministry officials will also attend additional trade shows this year as part of its marketing penetration and development strategy.

The Parliamentarian said that a proactive trade program is imperative to increase market share for Guyana.

She said that in this regard, the Guyana Tourism Authority continues to recognize Familiarization (FAM) trips as one of the most cost effective means of marketing destination Guyana and expanding sales distribution. FAM trips have proven over and over to be the real driving factor in having companies feature tours to Guyana.

This year Guyana is expected to host about six to eight trade and media FAMs. She indicated that the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority facilitated several familiarization trips during 2015. The main ones include a US Media Familiarization Trip for selected United States (US) media, as part of a drive to showcase the unique attractions of Guyana to the US market.

The United States of America forms one of the key source markets for Guyana’s Tourism, as it brings approximately 42 percent of all visitors to Guyana, hence the drive to further reinforce the significance of the country’s tourism potential to the US.

 

The FAM trip provided opportunities for writers from the Huffington Post, USA Today, and National Geographic among others, and Out of this, several International articles have been featured  in publications including  Huffington Post.

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