Tourism businesses want ‘a chance to breathe’
Days before another revision to the existing COVID-19 emergency measures, the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) is appealing to the government and the COVID-19 Task Force for more consideration to be given to the operation of business across the sector.
President of THAG, Mitra Ramkumar, believes that many of the existing restrictions imposed on tourism businesses, particularly lodges, riverside, creeks, and open savannahs, are a disservice to the tourism industry.
“We are appealing for a chance to breathe. Shutting down is not an option. It is not sustainable and you have to get a chance to breathe,” he told the News Room in a recent interview.
The COVID-19 measures in the Official Gazette addresses protocols to be followed to operate a business during the pandemic but Ramkumar says the tourism sector has been singled out in many instances.
He is particularly against the restrictions imposed on interior lodges but more specifically he is calling for a relaxation on the number of persons at a table in restaurants.
THAG believes the “tables 6 feet apart” and “persons three feet apart” measures are fine; however, the association believes more than four persons at a table should be allowed.
It was noted that this measure is affecting the restaurant industry with Guyana currently observing Tourism Awareness Month and Restaurant Week.
Although THAG would like this measure relaxed, Ramkumar maintains that persons should not engage in irresponsible and lawless behavior.
“We are saying that safety is the number one watchword, it’s the keyword for us because we will be putting ourselves at risk… the industry has been shut down for eight months and people are on their last drops,” he added.
Ramkumar also said that there are thousands of people who depend on the industry for survival.
“Tourism is a labor-intensive industry and it caters to the vulnerable in our society. We are talking about single mothers and school dropouts. If you look at the value chain it is wide and the authorities need to take that into consideration,” he explained.
The THAG President said examples across the region prove that the industry can operate safely. “We are no irresponsible people.”