Guyana’s Tourism Sector… Poised to flourish through comprehensive policies, meaningful monetary investments
Guyana’s Tourism industry is still young in years and maturity.
For years, the sector has struggled from a poorly resourced marketing effort; one that has been responsible for sluggish growth in the industry, while the quality of the product offering and the visitor experience still require strengthening in many areas.
Fortunately, the current administration has recognised the need to delink tourism as a sector in its own right. And it is its firm intention to at least double the tourism marketing budget over the next five years in an effort to scale up Guyana’s presence in targeted fora and media.
According to Finance Minister, Winston Jordan, the most recent marketing review has found that Guyana’s best selling option is to take advantage of its relative anonymity as a tourist destination and, under the Guyana, South America Undiscovered marketing initiative, it is expected that more visitors will originate from target markets than previously.
The Finance Minister believes that there is a need for more data to inform the marketing strategies. He said that the resource allocations to the industry will be aided by the adoption of tourism satellite accounting before 2020.
In the immediate future, the collection of good source data will be required as a prerequisite, including surveys to gather data on accommodation, visitor spending and supplier profiles.
Since the private sector has lobbied for the inclusion of tourism in the calculation of gross domestic product, he expects that they will be equally enthusiastic in providing the data needed.
Furthermore, improving product development and enhancing the visitor experience with strategic approaches, including event creation, are anticipated to bring more visitors to the country.
The Finance Minister said in this regard that development and enforcement of service standards and hospitality training will continue to be priorities for the sector to boost the quality of the experience.
In fact, a project, which will attract financing from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), will be initiated, and an appropriate model of a tourism hospitality school will be executed. Further, in bridging the coastland-hinterland divide, Government will accelerate efforts to implement the Hinterland Tourism Development Plan and aim to generate vibrant and sustainable livelihoods within communities across our country.
The cost of internal travel, as well as the cost of airlift to Guyana, will also be reviewed to improve accessibility among our regions. Altogether, the sector is expected to generate over 1,500 direct jobs in the next five years and witness a higher rate of increase in visitor arrivals with an expanded menu of tourism products and services.
For tourism to flourish, however, the Finance Minister insists that a cross-sectoral effort is required among Government, the private sector and civil society to ensure a visitor experience that results in repeat visits and positive stories here and abroad.
“We can all agree that no one wants to visit a garbage-strewn city. As we put our house in order, I invite all Guyanese to take pride in their surroundings, since our image and mindset must be to enhance and preserve the beauty of our native land. I invite all Guyanese to celebrate our rich cultural diversity and together demonstrate to the world a fresh and positive image of Guyana, and to tangibly show what we mean by traditional ‘Guyanese hospitality, as we continue to welcome visitors to our shores.”
The economist said that the Government recognises the immense value to be garnered from further advancing Guyana’s tourism.
He noted that momentum is being built through both public and private sector investments. Jordan recalled that last year, the Government continued to support the tourism industry through product development and marketing, under the new initiative ‘Guyana, South America Undiscovered’.
The Finance Minister noted that the Government has engaged the Caribbean Tourism Organization to guide the production of tourism satellite accounting to generate meaningful data about the industry, including its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product.
Going forward, the Government will develop an operational plan to realise the intent of the recently revised National Tourism Policy, which will lay a foundation for tourism development and ensure collaboration between Government and all 37 stakeholders.
It will focus on areas such as bird watching, eco-tourism, adventure tourism, wildlife watching, community-based tourism, sports fishing, sports tourism, yachting and cruise visits, entertainment and events and heritage/cultural tourism. This policy and operational plan will emphasise the role of tourism in providing jobs and economic growth throughout Guyana, but especially in the hinterlands.