By Isanella Patoir
Local tour operators and tour guides are being booked out completely since reducing the cost of their tour packages which ultimately cater to domestic tourists.
This initiative, according to the Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond is sustaining and reviving the sector which was one of the hardest hit as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I believe that the sector is doing tremendously well; we are seeing the effects with initiatives that we have launched. We are able to now track it through data. Boat operators, a lot of them are not available because they are doing tours, we have more and more tour guides saying that they are back on the job, back being employed; our lodges are booked out, our hotels are packed to capacity,” Minister Walrond told the News Room on Saturday during a media familiarisation tour to Regions Three and Seven.
“What traditionally happens is that there are peak seasons that foreigners come and we have decided and are working along with the private tour operators and facility managers to have packages available all year round at a reduced cost and that is targeted to the domestic traveler,” Minister Walrond explained.
These attractive prices are most time all-inclusive packages where locals can experience Guyana’s untouched and pristine tourism products across the country. The tours are being conducted in a strict COVID-19 free environment where only vaccinated persons are allowed to participate.
“I think for too long because we didn’t have a fully developed tourism product, it was a lot of a negativity added to it,” the minister said as she noted that there are infrastructural projects ongoing that will directly impact the tourism sector.
One such project is the $18 million stelling being constructed at Fort Island located along the Essequibo River in Region Three.
Director (ag) of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Kamrul Baksh told the News Room that they have recognised the need to further develop and rehabilitate the stellings which will ultimately boost tourism in several regions.
“Having a great facility such as a stelling will help with embarkation and disembarkation…we need to prioritise tourism infrastructure, infrastructure generally in the country, but you need these infrastructure to improve on the experience,” Baksh explained during a tour to Fort Kyk-Over-Al located at the junction of the Cuyuni and Mazaruni Rivers in Region Seven.
Additionally, the director said the development of infrastructure will also promote the safety of visitors and the quality of the experience here.
New tourism products
The GTA Director said they are fully committed to working with the private sector to develop new and quality tourism products that meet international standards.
“We want to cater for the domestic market, tourism is about domestic, diaspora and international,” Baksh said.
Soon, the GTA will launch several new tourism experiential products such as a packaged Fort Nassau Tour in Berbice along with the Canje Sunset Tour.
Other tours include the Indigenous experience tour – in villages such as Warapoka, Region One; Santa Aratak, Region Three and St Cuthbert’s Mission in Region Four. The Taste of Freedom Cook-up Tour will also be part of Guyana’s culinary experience tour.
“We want to ensure that persons coming back, persons locally here get to experience that, we want to expand product, develop more and more products,” the Director stated.
Meanwhile, Minister Walrond said the government is also committed to developing the sector and to assist communities that want to get involved in tourism.
“We help with training, we help identify their products and build out tours and circuits because when visitors come, they want a full experience, they want things to do.
“So, we come into the regions and we help identify what those products can be and we give support and training where that is concern,” the Tourism Minister said.