Tourism industry appeals for ban on wild meat trade

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By Isanella Patoir

President of the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Mitra Ramkumar is lobbying for a ban to be implemented on wild meat trade.

Ramkumar told the News Room that the commercial use of wild meat both internationally and domestically could pose serious problems.

He explained that while persons in the hinterland may use this as an economic activity, it should not be exported to other parts of the country and the world.

“Hunting for self-sufficiency in indigenous communities is okay and it should only be used in these communities and not be allowed to be extracted to the other parts of the country and world,” Ramkumar said.

He reasoned that Guyana cannot be named the number one ecotourism destination with less and less wildlife species.

“When people come to Guyana they want to see these animals in their natural habitat, the tapir, the deer and the labba,” Ramkumar said.

President of THAG, Mitra Ramkumar

He also said when tourists arrive in the country they may not want to see iguanas being sold on the road.

Meanwhile, Ramkumar delivered remarks at the first annual tourism awards held Tuesday night and called for the industry to be given the same tax concessions as any other export industry in the country.

The awards ceremony is a joint venture between THAG and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and was held at the Ramada Princess Hotel, East Bank Demerara.

It was announced at the awards that recent information from the Bureau of Statistics has rated tourism as the second-largest export sector in the country.

Ramkumar said Guyana has made tremendous strides in the tourism industry and noted that 2019 has been extremely successful with Guyana receiving six international awards one of which included the number one ecotourism destination in the world.

For the upcoming year, Ramkumar said they are looking to expand the tourism development fund to include tour operators and other members of the tourism industry.

They will also be working on the establishment of tourism police and an “I LOVE GUYANA” sign as a tourist attraction in Georgetown.

“I would like to see the restoration of Georgetown to its former glory as the Garden City and for us to fully adopt sustainable practices which are recycling, renewable energy,” Ramkumar said.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the GTA, Brian Mullis highlighted that a national tourism and product strategic plan must be up to date with what’s happening around the world.

“Based on our most recent visitation statistics we have seen an increase in 8.3% in travellers coming to Guyana in 2019 and based on that average expenditure this equates to an average of $4B been injected into our economy,” Mullis said.

The featured speaker at the award ceremony was Russian Dorrick who is the Toshao of Yupukari Village in Region Nine.

The awardees at the ceremony

He said that tourism has raised the profile of Guyana and that indigenous communities have also realized the value of tourism.

He mentioned while tourism has improved the way of life for indigenous people it has not diverted from their cultural living.

“Villages and communities right across Guyana in the hinterland region have started to work on their village improvement plans to better manage, understand and sustain their resources for future generations. Our foreparents in the early 40’s and 60’s did not realize how valuable it was to have animals and birds like the giants such as the jaguars and harpy eagles,” Dorrick said.

The awards served to recognize excellence, quality, professionalism, and innovation across all sectors of Guyana’s travel and tourism industry.

Some of the awardees included: Wichabi Ranch in Region 9 was the winner for New Tourism Product Experience of the Year; Hotel of the Year award was presented to the Cara Lodge Hotel in Georgetown; the Best accommodation interior lodge or resort of the year was the Arrowpoint Nature Resort in; Best in Dining restaurant was awarded to the Bistro Café and Bar and the Emerging community tourism destination was Karasabi Village in Region 8.

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