With Guyana’s airports shut to international flights two months now and with there being no estimated re-opening time, the country’s hotels, restaurants, resorts and other businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector have taken a hit; but the head of the country’s Aviation Authority believes the sector can stay alive if it re-invents the way it does business.
Director General of the Civil Aviation Authority, Egbert Field, believes that local tourism can collaborate with local airlines to market tourism packages to Guyanese.
He was speaking Thursday during an online seminar attended by local, regional and international stakeholder which was designed to brainstorm ways to help the local tourism sector weather the storm of revenue loss brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Field said regional and international airlines the likes of COPA Airlines, American Airlines, Eastern Airlines and LIAT have indicated that there will be no flights to Guyana in the near future while others are simply waiting the reopening of our airports to overseas flights.
Among these, Jet Blue was the only airline to indicate a timeline for recommencement of flights when they issued vague a spring 2021 prediction to the Civil Aviation Authority.
“We are not sure when international travel will recommence, so what do we do? I say we look at domestic tourism initially,” Field stated.
Filed referred to domestic tourism as the life support system for Guyana’s tourism sector before revealing the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has put together a team that is tasked with coordinating discussions in Guyana within the aviation industry about standardization of screening and sanitization methods.
“We must have that restart plan with a common approach to health,” he stated.
Local tour operators and travel agencies were told to begin working out new travel packages with local airlines that would cover regularly scheduled interior routes.
Director General Filed also urged these operators to begin renovating there spaces to accommodate local guests to environments that fit COVID-19 social distancing and safe health practice guidelines.
“We have to co-exist with the coronavirus for some time; therefore your facilities have got to identify with that co-existence” he told stakeholders.
The Civil Aviation Authority is discussions with a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) committee which is actively exploring ways to sanitize airports and aircrafts while setting guidelines for items passengers should have.
“With aviation, there has to be seamless travel.
“Therefore you cannot hold yourself to what standards you have – it must identify with the standards of the bordering states, regional states,” Field stated.
Tourism sector operators were urged to take heed of the fact that there is expected to be a large influx of international tourists when flights re-commence and therefore they should become diligent when preparing to adequately host while keeping themselves safe by preventing activities that contribute to the spread of the COVID-19 virus.