Tourism has only limited potential
Stabroek News
September 7, 2001

Dear Editor,

Recently there have been many news reports, including an SN editorial, on the tourism industry in Guyana. In your editorial, you exhorted the government to assist this industry and used a US$1.8 billion investment in the Dominican Republic to show the huge potential of this industry.

I realize that in Guyana there is a desperate need for investments, capital inflow, job creation and tax revenues. However, one has to be realistic about the limits of the tourism industry in contributing to these needs. I am no expert on this industry, however, I do know Guyana and have some knowledge of other destinations frequented by tourists. I think it's absurd to use the Dominican Republic example to show the unlimited potential of tourism in Guyana. This can only create false hopes and influence the policymakers and investors to spend more scarce resources than is necessary, due to tourism's limited scope.

I believe that tourism in Guyana will depend almost entirely on overseas?based Guyanese. There may be some scope for eco-tourism, but this is limited. Cost is another constraint. Operators in Guyana will find it very difficult to compete with other established locations. Also, the global economy is slowing rapidly and this will significantly affect the tourism business. Will an emerging tourist industry be able to compete in such a market? Notice I have not mentioned the effect of crime and politics.

I wish our tourism industry the greatest success. However, I also believe that scarce resources should be utilized effectively and efficiently. It is good to dream, but we also have to wake up and deal with the reality. This reality is that the potential of our tourism industry is limited. My advice to the Minister is to approach the issue with the same zeal as he did with the 'We want we tint' campaign, but be cognizant of its limitations.

Yours faithfully,

D Deonarine