Maintenance and upgrade of the facilities at the No.63 beach on the Corentyne Coast – long pointed to as a major tourism hotspot for development – is severely lacking despite promises by government officials and a committee set up to develop the area.
One of the major problems is the lack of an initiative to keep the beach clean in the face of indiscriminate littering and debris washed ashore with the tide. In addition, benabs and pavilions which were set up years ago are in a serious state of disrepair.
It was only last November that Minister of Tourism, Manniram Prashad, used the beach to launch Tourism Awareness Month, promoting the beach as important for the development of tourism in Guyana.
The poor state of the beach remains despite an increasing number of visitors, given the completion of the Berbice River Bridge, which makes a day-trip to the beach comfortable for those from the East Coast, West Coast and Georgetown, who previously did not visit the beach because of the inordinate delay in using the ferry service. While the beach is currently an eyesore to first-time visitors, there is no immediate plan to correct the situation.
Mr Adrian Anamayah, chairman of a committee set up to maintain and upgrade facilities at the beach, said there is an arrangement for five full-time workers attached to the Drainage and Irrigation Authority to clean the beach. However, it appears that cleaning of the beach does not occur regularly.
Anamayah told Kaieteur News that the committee plans to place garbage disposal bins along the beach and the No. 52-54 Neighbourhood Democratic Council has undertaken to clear the bins.
However, he said that it might be months before the bins are put in place. He said the bins are being donated.
With regard to the dilapidated state of the benabs and pavilions, Anamayah said the committee simply does not have the funds to carry out repairs. He said that the committee hosts various activities to raise funds, but he said there is need for a more robust involvement of the Berbice business community.
There has been talk over the years by government about the need to enhance the beach to attract more visitors, but the plans never materialised.
“We are looking at the possibility of overnight accommodation, improving the facilities at the beach in terms of lounge chairs and a boardwalk, and we need to have more persons at the beach to be able to develop concessions for renting paddle boats and jet skis,” Manzoor Nadir, then Minister of Tourism, said in August 2005 on a visit to No.63 Beach.
He acknowledged then that the beach has been a place where many local people have gone for relaxation and recreation, but it was a place which lacked adequate attention. However, none of the possibilities Minister Nadir spoke of materialised.
The appointment of Mr Manniram Prashad as Minister of Tourism saw renewed interest in the development of the beach, and he put in place the current committee, not only to look at maintenance, but to spearhead the development of the beach as an attractive tourist destination.
The Committee comprises representatives of the Regional Democratic Council, the Neighbourhood Democratic Council and the Central Corentyne Chamber of Commerce.
Prashad said that although Guyana cannot boast of white sand and blue waters, the No. 63 Beach offers persons an avenue for relaxation since the stretch of sand is extensive, and with development, the area can attract more visitors.
The increasing number of visitors currently means an increase in complaints about the poor upkeep of the beach, and it is hoped that those responsible will act urgently to develop the area.
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