A GINA FEATURE
Tourism as a sector is very important for showcasing a country’s cultural diversity, as well as its socio-economic potential. And with the attention “Destination Guyana” is receiving, there is no doubt that the sector will be propelled to greater heights in 2015.
In 2014, the sector, through a series of tourism activities, experienced great strides in promoting Guyana as a prime tourist destination. The activities provided perfect opportunities for thousands of tourists and locals to experience the country’s rich, diverse culture.
Guyana is now internationally recognised as a viable eco-tourism destination, as well as a bird watching sanctuary. The country has already been featured in many British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC’s) programmes on these two areas (eco-tourism and bird-watching). No doubt it has been getting the attention of thousands of visitors, coming here eventually to experience its tropical delights, inclusive of the rich flora and fauna, and its cultural diversity.
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) recorded another growing year of arrivals, and as of November 2014, Guyana scored a 13% increase in its tourist arrivals, as opposed to the same period in 2013.
The country also recorded several record months including July, August, September and October, topping the ‘best-ever’ since 1995.
This increase represents visitors from across the Caribbean Region, especially from Suriname, and Jamaica, and from Brazil. Several tourists have come to Guyana on ‘familiarisation trips’.
From January to July 2014, nine new and continuing projects were undertaken. The total value of the investment ranging from hotels to airlines, amounted to GYD $ 9,783,500,000.
In fact, Jags Aviation recently added a new Cessna Caravan to its fleet. It now boosts the local airlines seating capacity and adds a new level of comfort and luxury.
The spin-off from these projects will see 200 persons being hired soon.
Guyana continues to receive international recognition and several new documentaries were completed over the year. These add to the major publications featuring the country. They usually highlight several aspects of the growing tourism industry. Guyana was also featured in several renowned magazines, namely the National Geographic.
Films and Documentaries
In addition, the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) also provided an endorsement letter to Discovery Channel TV, whose officials visited Guyana in October to film episodes of “Naked and Afraid.”
The GTA also requested temporary importation of film equipment for the film company. Further, GTA provided an endorsement letter to BBC Television, to film Britain’s Secret Slave Owners in October.
An endorsement letter was also provided to CNN, to film “Big Earth” (August 14-20) in Guyana. Big Earth was commissioned by AlArab Channel, to produce a documentary in collaboration with CNN. Big Earth Productions featured Guyana in its “101 Amazing Adventures of the World” book, and is known for its exhilarating television productions, which feature extreme sports and travel adventures.
Inaugural Guyana festival
The Guyana Festival, which featured the heart of Guyana through “sound, taste and soul”, showcased the country’s culture, as well as tourism potential. This Festival was held from August 08-10 at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, and it offered a mixture of the country’s traditional music, dance, food, art and craft.
The 2014 International British Bird Watching Fair, held in Rutland, England, had over 35 international bird watching companies selling Guyana. At the Fair, there were 20 international birding companies selling “Destination Guyana.”
In 2013, there were 16 companies selling Guyana. This is the tenth year the country has been attending the event.
The 12th Pakaraima Mountain Safari was hosted under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, and the GTA, in collaboration with the private sector, particularly Rainforest Tours, whose owner, Frank Singh, became integrally involved from the beginning.
This event continues to grow each year, attracting larger participation from neighbouring countries. This year, a convoy of 20 vehicles, with over 70 adventure seekers, loaded with fuel, food stuff and other supplies, took part.
Guyana also held its second annual South Rupununi Safari, which commenced on November 25 and culminated five days later. The event kicked off on Robb Street and Avenue of the Republic and saw several vehicles, including trucks, pickups and a bike, making their way up to the Savannahs, to enjoy nature’s beauty and the rich Amerindian culture.
Yachting has become a major tourist attraction, particularly now that Bartica has been declared a port of entry, in order to promote this activity. This sport is reserved for yachts and larger sailboats.
In 2014, yachters came to Guyana as part of the second Nereid Rally and anchored their boats in the mighty Essequibo River.
GUYEXPO 2014 created great opportunities for the local promotion of tourism. This annual event began in 1995 and is now an annual expo, going back to 2004. The event showcases locally produced goods and services, while serving as an initiative for the creation of new markets, exports, and awareness for exhibitors.
In 2014, the expo saw another very successful year, with 116 international exhibitors participating.
The annual Moruca Expo, in its 10th year, served to showcase a variety of products and craft, produced by the community. The event also showcased the country’s eco-tourism potential.
The Ministry of Tourism is now beginning to get set to welcome Guyana’s many sons and daughters of the Diaspora. This initiative is a special plan to bring back at least 100,000 (10 per cent) of overseas-based Guyanese, to enjoy all that the country has to offer.
The long-term goal of the plan is to target all the major capitals around the world, where there is a significant Guyanese population.
“Guyana: South America Undiscovered” is the country’s new destination brand. It was unveiled at home and in London along with its new logo. The main purpose of the rebranding is to help Guyana meet its aspiration of becoming a leading sustainable tourism destination in the Region.
New Tourism Ambassadors
The Ministry, in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) hosted its 8th annual tourism award ceremony; it saw several local personalities, including Dave Martins, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Andrew King, Clive Lloyd, and Nicolette Fernandes, all being appointed Tourism Ambassadors.
Meanwhile 19 stakeholders were awarded in 11 categories for their contribution to the tourism sector during 2014. The ‘Pillar of the Tourism’ was given to Teri O’Brien.
At the end of 2014, a total of 606 persons were trained in the areas such as Bird Guide, Basic Conversational Spanish Language, Boat Captain, Culinary, First Aid/CPR, Customer Service, Servers, Front Office, Housekeeping and Front Desk. Training was conducted in the North Rupununi, Georgetown, Linden, Essequibo, Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) and Ogle International Airport.
Spanish Language barrier was also tackled as the GTA facilitated a four-day training session in basic Spanish, for the staff of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
The main airport’s modernisation was hampered due to the combined opposition’s denial of $5.3 billion which was budgeted for its upgrade and expansion through the construction of a new terminal building, aprons, air-bridges, taxiways and the extension of the runway by a further 3500 feet, to allow for the landing of larger aircraft at the airport. This airport is crucial to the local tourism industry, hence during the year, some foundation work was done for the runway.
A number of new airlines commenced operating the Guyana route in 2014- COPA, Dynamic Airways, Conviasa and Curacao registered Insel Air. Jags Aviation and Golden Arrow Airways joined the local industry. Golden Arrow Airways, a tour operation conducting tours to Kaieteur Falls/Orinduik was officially launched in May while Jags as well will be involved in conveying people to remote and hinterland areas for tourism and other purposes.
Of note is that the Guyana Oil Company Limited (GUYOIL) commissioned an Aviation Services Fuel Handling facility at the CJIA.
Guyana welcomed the first cruise vessel for 2014 with the return of the passenger ship Minerva to its shores. The 437-foot long 12,500 tonnage passenger ship, with its 350 passengers and crew of 174, of mainly Filipinos and Ukranians, took a two-day cruise in Guyana, under its 83 nights “Grand Faces of South America” tour, sailing from the Bridgetown round-trip.
Also the Internationally-known cruise liner, Vista Mar, on December 23 docked at the Demerara Sugar Terminal Wharf, Ruimveldt for the third time.
2015 Arrival Projections
The Ministry is projecting a 15 % increase in arrivals in this New Year. Several FAM trips are scheduled to be conducted and will result in more persons visiting Guyana.
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