Jul 24, 2016 News
The Tourism Industry can be the access point where youths along the Guyana-Brazil frontier are able to positively contribute to their economy by acquiring bilingual skills.
This was the view of Vice Consul of Brazil to Guyana, Lisa Marie Dos Reis, at a recent tourism networking conference organised by the Visit Rupununi (VR) initiative in Boa Vista, Brazil.
In the diplomat’s address at the conference she stated that it was important for Guyanese and Brazilians to learn the language of the other’s country, English and Portuguese respectively, in order for regional cooperation to continue.
“We have to speak English and our neighbours must learn Portuguese,” said Dos Reis. She specifically referred to developing language programmes in the Region Nine Municipality of Lethem. The recently declared town has always had a close relationship with Brazil as many citizens on both sides utilise it as a Port of Entry into Guyana.
As such, the Brazilian diplomat noted that setting up a language programme that teaches Portuguese to persons in the region would effectively contribute to development efforts in the region, particularly in the tourism sector.
Moreover, Dos Reis shared an informal proposal from Brazil to explore opportunities in developing a language training programme in Lethem similar to those offered at the Guyana-Brazil Cultural Centre in Georgetown. She added that officials from both Guyana and Brazil have met to speak on such an initiative already.
However, the Vice Consul said that support needs to come not only from government officials but from the citizens of the region whose lives will be directly affected by such programmes. She recommended that improving language skills on both sides will have the added benefit of assisting youth in starting their professional lives.
“We have a large number of adolescents on both sides. Let’s make these youngsters have a first profession. It might not be for life. But it may be for a beginning. If they learn English and Portuguese enough to work it would be a big step in their lives,” said Dos Reis.
The diplomat acknowledged the “difficult times” Guyana and Brazil are experiencing. Currently, Brazil is preparing to host the 2016 Summer Olympic come August in Rio de Janeiro. Press surrounding the event has been less than favourable given the health risks of the Zika virus, government corruption scandals and police protests in the host city.
However, she said that Brazil and Guyana remain hopeful in spite of such difficulties. Dos Reis added that instead of halting cooperation, both countries must continue to work together for the benefit of the countries’ youth.
Adding to the message of continued regional cooperation was Secretary of Planning and Development in Roraima, Alexandre Henklain. He said that on a recent trip to Guyana he was impressed with the enthusiasm with which the Guyanese Government is working on development projects between Lethem and Brazil.
Henklain stated that his country views the tourism industry as an opportunity to expand the collaborative efforts of both counties. Thus the industry will contribute to the continued development of the Rupununi-Roraima.
“Our motivation is to work together with the tourist trade at the Guyana border and to work jointly in planning development based on tourism on the borders between Roraima and Guyana,” said the Brazilian official.
He added that relations between the countries will improve as consultations on the construction of the Lethem-Linden road continue.
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