Travel needs to be cheaper, easier and faster to boost tourism – President Granger
By Bibi Khatoon
As the 24th Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities on Tourism today opened at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown, President David Granger called for cheaper and easier travel to boost sustainable tourism.
The Head of State in his address at the opening of the conference noted that “small island states tend to lack the resources to finance their own air and shipping lines so that new routes can be exploited to boost tourist arrivals,” adding that “Travel needs to be cheaper, easier and faster.”
He noted that destinations need to be connected efficiently to make tourism more competitive with other parts of the world.
Minutes after his address, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley was asked about the possible reduction of airfares for inter-regional travel at a press conference. In response, he noted that the organization held meetings on the topic before and found that it is a complex matter which needs to be addressed from various angles.
“There is no one single thing that anybody can do to fix it. We discovered that what’s preventing us from growing inter-Caribbean travel to its full potential, fall into the categories of legal and regulatory, there is safety and security issues, there is the economics of travel, the business of taxation and so on and what makes those airline tickets so expensive and then there is the final piece of passenger experience,” he noted.
The conference also includes the participation of various airlines.
Guyana’s President also pointed to the need to increase tourists arrival, another issue the CTO Secretary General took the time to address.
Riley said the amount of persons travelling to the Caribbean region has increased over the years, but the CTO is still not satisfied as travel is not growing as fast when compared to the rest of the world.
To tackle this, he believes it is critical that the Caribbean destinations pool their resources and push multi-destination tourism –this entails promoting all-inclusive packages to more than one Caribbean country.
“We have to make sure that we stay competitive. We’re never going to reach the full potential though if we try as individual countries to make our voice heard. We have a responsibility to that as individual countries…but if we ever pooled our resources, understanding that the Caribbean brand is greater and better known and more powerful than individual countries brands, we would then have the opportunity to make a louder noise and really go out into the market with the impact we absolutely need,” he explained.
Meanwhile, President Granger also presented three points for the Congress of experts to consider, those being; the development of a concerted approach to the environment, the promotion of increased connectivity between tourist destinations by encouraging the development of infrastructure and providing smaller states, particularly the small island states of the Caribbean, with easier access to capital for investments to build a more resilient industry.
In order to boost the tourism industries, he noted that there is a need for protection from the perils of transnational threats such as cybercrime and trafficking in drugs, guns and people.
“Security cooperation against transnational threats will make our societies safer for our citizens and our visitors,” he noted.
Also addressing the event was Minister of Business with responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin, who told those gathered that the government is looking to expand its hinterland tourism-based projects.
This is the first time Guyana is the host country of a meeting for the Organsation of American States.
The meeting, under the theme “connecting the Americas through sustainable tourism” will come to an end on Thursday afternoon.