GINA, GUYANA, Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Minister of Business with the responsibility for Tourism, Dominic Gaskin, said that the year 2016 has been a good one for the tourism sector and that all citizens should be proud to know that Guyana has a product that attracts visitors.
Minister Gaskin highlighted that at the end of September, Guyana had seen an 11 percent increase in tourist arrivals. This is expected to increase over the Christmas holidays. “We have a product that is unusual in this day and age and we are probably one of the most ignored countries on the planet and has been for a long time, which makes us special in a sense that not a lot of people know about Guyana, so this sudden discovery gives us a certain prominence, a certain mystique that we have to play on and utilise,” Minister Gaskin said.
Gaskin said that Guyana’s nature and Eco-Tourism is second to none. The Minister pointed out that Guyana is a large country when compared to its Caribbean neighbours, and when persons fly over Guyana and all that they will see is vast un-spoilt natural habitat for miles and miles.
Minister Gaskin stated that the un- spoilt habitat has its attractions such as the amazing bio diversity, the plant life, animal life, the rivers and “anyone who visits the hinterland comes away with a refreshing sense that it is something really special and that is what we want to promote,” Minister Gaskin said.
50th Golden Jubilee celebrations –Minister Gaskin said that the May Jubilee celebrations created quite a buzz not only locally but around the world. He noted that the country had a huge influx of visitors in May and June.
“This year has been a very good year to tourism; a lot of work went into promoting Guyana for the jubilee year and that work began last year under the previous Minister Catherine Hughes and a lot of what happened in May must be attributed to her hard work. I only took over in July and I am reaping the benefits of her hard work,” Minister Gaskin said.
A total of 170,318 visitors arrived in Guyana during the first three quarters of 2016, when compared to the same period in 2015. Visitor arrivals peaked in May, with over 24,000, which is double the number from May 2015.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan during the 2017 Budget presentation said, “the year 2016 will be remembered, as the year when we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of our Independence. From near and afar, Guyanese as well as foreign dignitaries and visitors came to celebrate our significant milestone.”
From the hoisting of an imposing national flag on the eve of May 26, to the pageantry of the Float Parade, to the other activities and events that were held, the significance of what it means to be Guyanese was truly on display.
In true Guyanese style, the over 27,000 diaspora Guyanese reconnected, mixed, and mingled with their friends and families at home, their expressions of joy and patriotism heavily felt through their actions and spending.
Minister Gaskin said that this year’s trade show was a huge success and that his Ministry and the GuyExpo Committee was very appreciative of the hundreds of attendees that attended the exposition.
Minister Gaskin explained that GuyExpo was well aligned with the objectives of the Ministry of Business, as well as the economic development priorities of the government, and was designed to nurture and promote business growth and development in Guyana.
The Minister also revealed that development of micro and small enterprises was a focus of the ministry in 2016. Minister Gaskin noted that GuyExpo provided openings for growth for small businesses, giving them the opportunities needed to grow and develop.
The annual trade fair saw an estimated 500 exhibitors who showcased their enterprises. The hosting of this business event in May was part of the range of activities commemorating Guyana’s 50th independence anniversary.
“Awakening a Sleeping Giant”, that was the theme of Guyana’s very first Coconut Festival that was staged during Agriculture Month 2016. The Guyana Coconut Festival was held from October 28 to 30 at the Arthur Chung Convention Centre.
The last week of October 2016 was designated Coconut Awareness Week. Among the range of activities were product exhibitions, cooking and processing demonstrations, and presentations by Guyanese, Surinamese and American stakeholders on the multiple use of coconut.
Some of the countries that participated in the festival include Suriname, Brazil, Mexico and India.
Tourism Awareness Month
Tourism Awareness Month, which was observed in November under the theme “Tourism for All- Building Partnerships for Tourism Development”, saw a number of activities being held. Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Indranauth Haralsingh said that tourism contributes significantly to the country’s image and visibility.
Minister of Tourism, Dominic Gaskin in the interview with GINA expressed joy in meeting the photographer Rene Kaster and journalist Marco Barnveld from National Geographic who visited Guyana and was mesmerised by the country’s beauty which he (Barveld) described an “un-spoilt gem”.
Another highlight for the month was the International launch of the Wilderness Explorers at the World Travel Market Fair in London. The Guyanese booth received remarkable response relating to Guyana as a Tourism Destination. “There were no copies of the magazine left in London, President of THAG, Andera De Caires said.
The annual South Rupununi Safari saw about 50 persons participating, engaging in a six- day trip, moving through Regions Four, Eight, Nine and Ten and in the process touching 10 villages. The event took place from November 24 to 29, 2016. The convoy left Georgetown and ended at Achiwuib in Region Nine.
Minister of Finance Winston Jordan in his budget presentation said that the first ever Coconut Festival held in 2016 shows the Government’s willingness to explore and promote new tourism initiatives. The festival complemented other expositions such as Building Expo, and Wedding Expo, and served to bring together innovative entrepreneurs while attracting new tourists.
Another highlight for the year has been the launch of SURINAME-based airline Fly All Ways. The airline made its inaugural flight from Guyana to Barbados on August 9, 2016. The airline provides three non-stop flights per week from Guyana to Suriname to Barbados.
By: Gabreila Patram