Tourism does have great potential
Stabroek News
September 11, 2001

Dear Editor,

I could not let Mr D Deonarine's submission [ please note: link provided by LOSP web site ] of Sep 7, 2001 on tourism captioned `Tourism has only limited potential' go unchallenged. Guyana is blessed with a tropical climate all year, no natural disasters and an English-speaking population on the coast of South America. This is a recipe for tremendous success in tourism. This success will be dependent on `vision' and `will'. But who in this government has it?

A very simple model will exemplify a vision. Supposing Guyana is to build a tourist resort of 150 rooms with all the usual trappings normally found in in-city resorts in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. (Yes, there are hundreds of examples of successful `in-city' resorts without direct access to a beach). The resort will have ample water sports facilities, tennis courts, indoor games, restaurants, nightclubs and numerous group activities. The resort will promote day trips such as city tours, sugar factory tour, Linden and bauxite factory tour, fishing trip, hiking trip, biking trip, beach day, river cruise, Kaieteur Falls, Orinduik Falls, eco-resort day trips, etc; more than enough to keep every visitor busy every day for at least 2 weeks.

Now imagine this resort being priced to compete with the existing destinations in Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean. Such a resort will attract not only expatriate Guyanese, but also the mainstream middle class vacationers of North America and Europe. I have absolutely no doubt that this resort can be successfully marketed in North America and Europe. This single resort will have the capacity to accommodate 300 visitors at any one time. Some obvious benefits that will accrue to Guyana are:

1. Allowing for a modest average expenditure of US $100 per person per day will result in a total cash in-flow into Guyana of US $10,950,000 or $2.08 billion Guyana dollars.

2. This one resort will accommodate the arrivals from 2 airline charters per week.

3. At least 30% of tourist dollars will be spent on local labour, which will result in about 2,500 jobs.

4. There are many other benefits, such as income tax remittances, airport revenue, hotel taxes, NIS remittances, income to other resorts and services, etc., which are not being quantified; suffice it to say that they will all have a positive impact on Guyana.

The Government does not need to invest real money to encourage investments in tourism. To benefit from this type of investment, we need a Government that must understand that concessions do not mean money from the treasury, nor do concessions create jobs or take risks; it is the businessman and the investor who creates jobs and takes risks. You cannot have an investor wanting to build a hotel, but must wait months, even years for an environmental permit, water, electricity and phones. These problems must be solved.

You also need a more friendly and hospitable environment. Neither Guyanese nor tourists should be subjected to confinement in jail for minor offences or beaten and robbed on the streets. Specific policies and procedures have to be developed, especially when it comes to how our police should deal with expatriates and foreign tourists. Their Guyanese experience must encourage them to come back and recommend us to others.

Given our pool of unskilled labour and the transient nature of that labour, the tourism industry is one area that can have an immediate impact on job creation and standard of living in Guyana. It needs a `vision' and `will'.

Yours faithfully,

Sase Shewnarain
CEO-Roraima Trust & Investment Inc