It is an insult to the people of Guyana for the marriage laws of the country to be changed simply to allow some persons to come here and get married.
It is an insult to the intelligence of the people of this country that such a suggestion can be made. Our laws are not supposed to be changed at any whim, fancy or trend. Why should we change our marriage laws simply to allow some foreign tourist to come here and get married because someone feels that this is a niche for our tourism market?
If foreigners really want to come here and get married, then let them come and spend the two weeks and then get married. Let them move around the country, meet the people, see the place and spend some good money. But please do not let us change the law simply to allow Guyana to be used as a honeymoon suite by tourists.
The laws of Guyana require that before persons are married in Guyana that both parties must be in Guyana for specified periods. This law was not put together simply to become an administrative bottleneck to marriages.
There are good reasons for these requirements. Hastily arranged marriages can result and if the laws are amended and the amendment promotes hastily arranged marriages, then Guyana’s reputation is going to be sullied even more.
The law was so designed to discourage marriages of convenience.
While greater administrative efficiency is needed in the granting of marriage licences, the laws should not be tampered simply to cater for tourists.
We should therefore forget the talk about exploiting a niche market in marriage tourism. How many foreigners are going to come to Guyana to get married?
How many are coming here to be mauled by the mosquitoes on their honeymoons? What is so special about marrying in Guyana that would allow us to have an influx of tourists? And what niche market are we speaking about? Where is this market? Is it in someone’s imagination?
We have to change our marriage laws for something more important than simply promoting someone’s idea of marriage tourism.
If we tamper with our marriage laws for any trivial reason, this will increase the demands for us to do a complete overhaul of the laws so as to facilitate same-sex marriages.
As such the government has to be very circumspect in how it goes about tinkering with our marriage laws. It should avoid doing so because already there is too much controversy involved.
Immigration cases in Canada are filled with examples of Guyanese being rejected for permanent resident status on the grounds of marriages that were believed contrived for purely immigration purposes. There are tens of thousands of Guyanese who married simply to get to go abroad. That is a fact.
There is obviously not that risk involved when there are two foreigners coming to Guyana to marry. But the risk is that once the laws are tinkered with, then there is going to be a demand for some slack to be cut for say a local marrying someone from outside of Guyana, and the danger of course if that this exposes the system to manipulation.
And once you begin to cut slack, then people will demand to be married overnight. And this will become a problem because it is known that in some states people go on a drinking spree and in delirium of their intoxication suddenly decide that they want to get married. They drive to a state that allows this and the next thing they know is that they are man and wife. When they sober up they realise what they have done.
Once we begin to give concessions to foreigners, others will demand more leniency.
So we must think through things better and stop plucking ideas out of thin air.
Guyana is not going to do well in beach tourism. We do not have the sort of beaches that will attract foreigners in their numbers and even if we did, we will have to compete with the other Caribbean islands.
We also do not need to be concentrating on marriage tourism. The numbers are simply not impressive. Neither from the local end, nor from foreigners who may be interested in getting married in Guyana.
The more you however examine these suggestions, the more a pattern emerges. All of these suggestions are aimed to supporting specific interests in the Guyanese economy. And you do not need a crystal ball to see who is going to benefit from these ideas.
There are better ideas to promote tourism, especially sports tourism and weekend tourism.
Guyana shares borders with three countries and if each time there is a long holiday weekend we can have one thousand persons from each of these three countries. This will do us far better than encouraging marriage tourism.
Before therefore we get into new niches, let us exploit those other niches that officials have been boasting about but doing precious little to promote. Let us examine sports tourism, family tourism, school reunions tourism and festival tourism and weekend tourism.
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