Naturally, Region Two sells itself as ripe for eco, agro-tourism
-- work ongoing to improve experience, establish new tourist sites
By Kurt Campbell
From existing tourist destinations such as the well-known Lake Mainstay Resort to new and developing sites across several indigenous communities, Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) and the wider Essequibo County is selling the way of life of its inhabitants as unspoiled for eco and agro-tourism.
The region, which consists of several indigenous communities, is well known for its agricultural strength but adding to that are its refreshing lakes, creeks and rivers, ambiotic nature and exciting activities.
With Guyana observing the calendar event of Tourism Month in November, the region believes that with the right help, it can transform its pristine beauty and the day-to-day activities of its people into an economic wager through eco and agro-tourism.
During a media safari and familiarisation tour along the Essequibo Coast on Friday, Minister of Tourism Industry and Commerce Oneidge Walrond also sold Region Two for its vast potential in helping to transform the country’s tourism product.
“It’s one of the most pristine and cleanest places. It just looks and feels relaxing. With its vast expanse of land ad very hospitable people, it’s not just the indigenous experience; the food is also excellent.
“There is a lot to sell and say about Region Two that is great for tourism,” the minister told the News Room.
But more importantly, with the focus now on agro-tourism, the minister believes Region Two is perfect for marrying agriculture with tourism.
Walrond said with the COVID-19 pandemic grinding tourism to a halt, tours are starting to take off again but in packaging the experience for tourists, emphasis is being given to improving the experience.
Improving the tourism experience in Region Two is not being done in isolation with attention given to a circuit of locations with a keen focus on developing new tourist sites.
NEW TOURIST SITES
One such area is the breathtaking lake community Tapakuma. Rich with flora and fauna, the indigenous community is located some 14 miles from Anna Regina.
As Toshao Aubrey Fredericks told the News Room, work had started in 2019 to develop the tourism potential of the entire village.
“We believe in our village that we have tourism potential but we are at a stage where we need much development and would like to seek help from our government,” he said while standing a few feet off from the still underdeveloped Tapakuma Lake.
He said plans are also afoot to soon put on show the beauty of the Dawa pump station area. It opens up possibilities for activities like canoeing and sport fishing.
But as Minister Walrond and the Head (ag) of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Kamrul Baskh explain, several communities in Region Two are already receiving government assistance to improve the experience, expand and set up new sites.
Walrond said the Capoey Lake Resort, nestled in an Amerindian settlement, is also receiving help to construct a guest house and other modern amenities.
“We don’t say you have a good product and leave you. We help you to develop it from stage to stage.
“There will be the offering of the raw rustic experience, a mid-tier experience and a high-end one… It is all about improving the experience,” the Tourism Minister said.
In supporting rural tourism, the government is also looking to improve public infrastructure with upgrades to several auxiliary roads ongoing. Walrond said it is an inter-agency collaboration that is “going well.”
The News Room also caught up with the region’s chairperson, Vilma De Silva who was keen on selling the region’s agro-tourism potential.
A trailblazer in the local coconut industry with acres of coconut trees in the Pomeroon, De Silva said the region’s agriculture base is a plus for supporting the government in its thrust to develop agro-tourism.
From the growing of rice and coconut to exotic fruits, De Silva is excited at the prospects.
She said it would require some re-imagining by framers who would now be required to change the layout of their farms to guarantee a commercial farm to market to home experience.
“It has to be done in a sustainable fashion.”
Passionate about agriculture, the Region’s Chairwoman said as she imagines it tourists will soon be able to visit well-pruned farms at the time of harvest where they can reap/harvest their own crops or fruits and leave the farm with it in baskets that can also be made by locals.
“You can eat while there but what you full in your basket, pay for that,” she said pointing to the value-added nature of the business that contributes to the economies of the communities.
Minister Walrond is all too excited about the farm-to-table experience, promising continuous support and training in this regard.