Guyana’s tourism sector lost about $33.6 billion in 2020, owing to the restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Efforts are, however, ongoing to ensure that there is a safe return to tourism activities in Guyana.
This is according to Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond in her World Tourism Day message, publicised on Monday.
The global tourism industry was decimated in 2020, evidenced by the loss of US$1.2 trillion globally, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council. With this substantial loss, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank indicated that tourism has been among the hardest-hit sectors during the pandemic.
Walrond said that in Guyana, the same was true. The sector was one of the hardest-hit and lost the $33.6 billion sum in export earnings.
Importantly, she highlighted that numerous steps have been taken to rejuvenate the sector.
And, the tourism ministry in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), has been able to implement a “stringent, yet integrated and coordinated recovery process that has yielded positive results.”
The measures that have been rolled out include the provision of training and capacity- building opportunities, the technical review of standard operating procedures to ensure sanitation and hygiene protocols are in place, and the provision of much-needed sanitisation supplies.
Key incentives, including the reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on domestic travel, have been granted too.
With the roll out of these measures, Walrond noted that some businesses have been able to conditionally re-open.
To date, she said that 41 tourism businesses- including 63 per cent of interior lodges and resorts and 43 per cent of tour operators- have been granted their condition approvals for re-opening.
Restaurants and bars have also been allowed to re-open, but under strict sanitation protocols and with adequate spacing requirements.
It is important to note that many tourism establishments have to be regularly monitored to ensure that they remain in compliance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.
And Walrond highlighted that the government is committed to aiding the recovery of the sector.
“…we understand the social and economic benefits and positive impact the recovery will have on the most vulnerable groups and families across our country,” she stated.
Meanwhile, she emphasised that widespread vaccination is crucial to aid the tourism sector.
According to her, vaccination, along with strict adherence to the requisite safety protocols, will provide a conducive environment for safer travel and a full re-opening.