Canada helping three indigenous eco-lodges to reopen with safety protocols

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The Canadian government is assisting three Indigenous-owned eco-lodges to establish health and safety protocols, which will allow them to reopen during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The High Commission of Canada, in a statement on Friday, announced the launch of its project ‘Restarting Tourism: Establishing Health and Safety Protocols for Eco-Lodges to Resume Operations During COVID-19.’

“This project will support Indigenous community-based Eco-Lodges to safely bring tourists back to their communities after a 9-month COVID-imposed hiatus and also provide best practices that can be useful to others within the sector,” the High Commission said.

The project, which is being executed by Wilderness Explorers Guyana, will work with the Rewa, Surama and Caiman House Eco-lodges.

According to the statement, training will include the safety of staff and guests, sanitation practices and emergency care and will also facilitate the transfer of knowledge within the community and neighbouring lodges for long term success.

Training sessions will be done at the Atta Lodge, located in the Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve. At the conclusion of the training, each lodge will receive a manual on health and safety protocols to be used as a reference guide.

Each lodge will also receive cleaning and sanitization supplies to support the implementation of sanitization practices at their facilities.

The High Commission said work will also be done with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Ministry of Health to ensure that the lodges are locally and internationally COVID-compliant and the protocols are sustainable for the sector.

In March 2020, the tourism industry in Guyana was brought to a standstill as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of the airports. This severely affected Indigenous communities in Guyana’s tourism regions whose primary source of income is tourism.

Approvals were recently granted in Guyana to restart the industry.

Additionally, once the standards are in place, the project will embark on a tourism promotion drive both locally and internationally, in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), where the Rewa, Surama and Caiman House Eco-lodges will be marketed as safe and ‘COVID-compliant’.

According to the statement “the aim is to increase the interest in their unique tourism offering and also increase the amount of tourists to the communities while also demonstrating that safety protocols are in place. This will provide steady employment for the residents and contribute to Guyana’s eco-tourism sector.”

Project activities are scheduled to commence in early January and should be completed by April 2021.

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