Marketing local tourism businesses major focus for 2021
Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Carla James has said that one of the major areas of focus in 2021 would be to market and promote local tourism businesses to locals.
According to James, international travel should begin sometime after the first quarter in the New Year and as such they will be looking to have accessible tourism products and destination to the Guyanese population.
“We are going to be working with [Guyana Office for Investment], [Guyana Revenue Authority], etc to revise the tourism incentive package to encourage more businesses opening and tour operations or even putting in activities such as zip lining just so that there are more things to do that are not so expensive especially for our Guyanese that want to go out there to explore their own country,” James said during a press conference.
The updated COVID-19 gazetted order provides for tourism businesses and eco-lodges to reopen under protocols established by GTA. So far, 11 businesses have been approved for safe travel.
“Importantly, in helping to bounce back in a big way we are going to be increasing our marketing drive to compliant tourism businesses, encouraging domestic, diaspora travelers to book with these locations and businesses that have been approved safe for travel and that is going to continue to happen throughout the year,” James said.
Tour operators and lodges are also being urged to get creative with what they are offering as packages as the GTA will be working on improved tax concessions for local tourism businesses, strengthening the capacity of the work force and policy changes such as gazetting a revised licensing framework and amended regulations.
James further explained that the current regulation is very stringent and not realistic to what is happening internationally for tourism.
“…and then of course looking at implementing measures that provide the incentives for tourism investments and businesses,” James said.
Already, 12 hotels have committed to investments in Guyana which will greatly boost the industry.
The GTA reported that its strategy to use overseas companies to market Guyana has paid off.
According to the Deputy Director, Kamrul Baksh, this achievement was especially so in the United States, the UK and Germany where marketing representatives for the Guyana Tourism Authority meet with tour operators and encourage promotion of Guyana.
The GTA has also developed an official hygienic and sanitation protocol to alleviate the uncertainty of COVID-19 and give guidance to businesses. The Authority has also assisted with developing a standard operating procedure for the businesses within the sector.
GTA is now tasked with conducting inspection of businesses to ensure they are in compliance with the protocols, while COVID-19 support packages were distributed especially to indigenous tourism communities.
In 2020, the GTA recorded the highest number of compliant licensed businesses. Baksh said a total of 18 businesses and 12 tour guides are in compliance with their licenses. This is as a result of license fees that were waived due to the pandemic and Baksh said this will continue in 2021.
GTA will continue monitoring and will hold businesses accountable for breaching the protocols. This is in an effort to keep the work force, communities and travellers safe.
NEGATIVE IMPACTS DUE TO COVID-19
Visitors’ arrival from January to November decreased by 98% in 2020, mainly due to the closure of airports and borders. Tourism businesses also loss 42% in total revenue for the period March to September as compared to the same period in 2019.
“This is based on a survey that we would have conducted earlier to assess what the impact of COVID-19 has been on their business. This has been really detrimental [because] they have had no cash flow to keep their staff which resulted in approximately 4, 600 or 65% of the tourism workforce basically without jobs,” the Director explained.