The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) questioned whether Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin, will be able to man both the Tourism sector along with his current responsibilities.
Despite the lack of a public announcement, recent reports stated that Gaskin, will be adding the Tourism portfolio to his list of duties, from July 1, 2016, leaving current Minister Cathy Hughes with the Telecommunications portfolio.
In a statement, the Association renewed its call for the tourism sector to be a standalone Ministry, noting that it is pertinent to have a “Minister who has the time to focus on the sector’s development, understands the needs of the industry and auxiliary sectors.”
It added that while THAG finds no fault in Minister Gaskin, the sector has “many…opportunities exist for our booming destination that will require constant effort and engagement with the travelling public and industry operators, hence the need for a committed standalone Minister.”
It further questioned “if the current Minister of Public Communication, with a strong background in and understanding of the industry, is too busy to address the needs of the industry, how could an equally demanding portfolio of the Minister of Business be able to devote attention to the Tourism Sector?”
The association underscored that Minister Hughes understands the needs and concerns of tourism and contributed to several successes in the sector over the year through well-received representations locally and internationally.
THAG charged that the Tourism portfolio has been drastically diluted over the last twelve months, alluding to the move that was made to assign the portfolio of Telecommunications to Minister Hughes.
It further expressed frustration at the adjustment noting that “another adjustment to the tourism portfolio whenever identified, the ministry’s focus is adjusted.”
The association also seized the opportunity to charge that government has so far merely paid lip-service to tourism, noting that no allowances have been made to develop the industry since the 2015 regional election, despite recognition being paid to the sector’s contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
It identified the impact of the recent Jubilee celebrations which it notes increased demand for goods and services, however a dedicated Minister will further boost the sector.
THAG had also asked for an exclusive Minister during the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) tenure in office. At that time, Tourism was grouped with Industry and Commerce (now Ministry of Business), while then Minister Irfaan Ali also manned the Ministry of Housing and Water which now fall under the Ministry of Communities.