Guyana Safari

A journey from the coastal plain to the highlands

 

World Tourism Day 2020 – How are we doing in Guyana?

Andre N.B Dukhia

The travel, tourism and hospitality sector has borne the brunt of COVID-19! Some economies are affected more than others. However, irrespective of the impact that this pandemic is having globally, the focus for many countries is on weathering out the storm of this pandemic and putting plans in place for the rebound. This year World Tourism Day highlights the importance in preserving and promoting culture and heritage all around the world, the focus is on tourism and rural development. Undoubtedly, the real nudge here is to rethink the tourism industries future.

World Tourism Day was first celebrated on September 27, 1980 by the UNWTO as an international observance. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of the importance of tourism and the impact tourism have on economies across the international community. COVID-19 has brought about severe restrictions in international travel, naturally this by itself played a substantial role in the closure of tourism attractions and by extension increased unemployment.

The President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) in her written message on the occasion of World Tourism Day pointed out that the Caribbean is replete with examples of how tourism has been key to the development of rural communities. The President of the Association pointed out that hotels, resorts and tourism businesses are major generators for other economic activities in their communities beyond the creation of jobs at the resorts. “These hotels have spawned a range of businesses and jobs which otherwise would not exist without tourism, including new attractions, ground transportation services, restaurants, musicians and entertainment providers, fishermen, farmers, and other support services for hotels.”

The Roraima Institute (TRI) is very interested in the successful development of tourism in Guyana. There are many questions to be asked. One of the burning questions currently is what effective plans are being put in place to address the challenges tourism face in this era of COVID-19? We are certain that the minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce and the current government of Guyana is seriously engaged in developing such a plan. TRI will research the allocation made in the current budget on tourism and keep abreast of the current policies with a view to evaluating and contributing ideas and initiatives that can be very productive. We will continue to monitor tourism in the Caribbean and at the world level. We also intend to engage and dialogue with the players in the tourism sector in Guyana. Once again TRI wishes to reiterate on this auspicious Word Tourism Day that Guyana will become a very important player in the hemisphere.

September 27,2020. Andre is a college professor in Toronto. He can be reached by email: andre.dukhia@gmail.com

Guyana Safari

A journey from the coastal plain to the highlands

Shaping a tourism future

Andre N.B Dukhia

President Ali in his inaugural speech on August 8th, 2020, expressed his government’s intention to make Guyana the centre for economic activities in the region. The President made specific mention of tourism being one of the priority sectors that will contribute to the growth of Guyana’s economy. This is heartening, tourism can become an even more meaningful player in the immediate short term and a major economic contributor in the longer term. What has been lacking is a clear vision for this sector. Now that the buzz word is policy, what are the policies impacting this sector? What are the specific tourism policies that will spur the growth of the industry?

The services sector is not as simple to grasp as other sectors such as manufacturing and agriculture. The services sector is complex, intricate and often mysterious. The biggest challenge for tourism to succeed in Guyana lies in the ability of the policy makers to identify the deficiencies in the wider service components. We have to create policies that will not only strengthen each component, but strategically align the many moving parts into a gear train that will function as a well-oiled machinery. This may sound rudimentary. However, this is no ordinary undertaking. In the pursuit of such goals it will be necessary to do things differently.

What will it take? For starters, a clear definition of roles! Plain and simple. The private sector has to drive the growth, government’s role is to facilitate that drive. The bureaucrats have to fall in line and accept first and foremost, that tourism is business and the sector will not prosper on the basis of a few world class natural attractions alone. The policy framework in the simplest sense has to pave a seamless path for the movement of tourist from their place of origin to the destination; a mind-blowing experience at the destination and a smooth return trip. Here is the kicker, you are not operating in the global nor regional tourism space alone! How will you outdo the competition? Cost, quality, competition or collaboration? and hundreds of other factors have to be brought under the microscope. But wait, you do not have another 25 years to do this, the fluid relationship between government and the private sector has to shift into a higher gear now. COVID-19 pose additional challenges to the industry, how do you spin this negative?

There is much work to be done, it takes folding up sleeves and walking the ground, the grassroots have a role in shaping the industry’s future. Mobilizing your human resources at home and afar is essential. While you create a portfolio structure for the sector and line up subject matter experts and those who will skilfully manage the many moving parts, do not forget that the most important prerequisite is a clear collective vision and the know-how to realize that vision.

September 2020. Andre can be reached by email: andre.dukhia@gmail.com