OAS director stresses need for clean city

by Wendella Davidson
Guyana Chronicle
January 23, 2000

DIRECTOR of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Guyana, Mr Michael Wyllie, has expressed the view that if Guyana's tourism industry takes off and become a serious enterprise, "this country could be virtually turned around overnight."

But he cautioned that to positively effect such a change, the much-need infrastructure and awareness must be in place, and a clean city is required.

Wyllie, who made the observations during an interview at his Brickdam Office last week, said his understanding of tourism and the tourism product is that cleanliness is most likely the number one priority.

The top official whose organisation has been allocating considerable amounts of monies to aid in the development of tourism here remarked that "tourists are very concerned about going to a country and getting sick."

Wyllie, in making reference to the Island of Bermuda where he lived for a number of years said tourism is a very vibrant part of that country's economy.

According to him, Bermuda's economy is based almost solely on tourism, banking and insurance, since it exports virtually nothing.

Asked then, the reason behind the continued commitment by OAS to fund Tourism Awareness programmes here, when it appears as though nothing tangible is being done to improve the state of the city, Wyllie retorted "one cannot give up, ... that is not the attitude."

The OAS official, however, alluded to the recent rehabilitation works at the 1763 Monument and said he was heartened by what he saw there.

"I don't know who did it, which group..., but in my opinion, it is commendable. They have virtually transformed that area and that is what is needed."

"You can't approach a problem from a macro prospective. You have to do so from the micro prospective," he added, and suggested that one way of solving the problem of keeping the city clean is by tackling small portions at a time.

"You take little pockets of Georgetown and clean it up, beautify it and hopefully people are going to see and emulate that... It becomes somewhat infectious and over time you have a beautiful Georgetown," he said.

Wyllie reiterated that from what he has seen at the 1763 Monument, there is no reason why the Garden City of some 20 years ago, cannot be a nice, pretty place again.

On the issue of enforcement of laws, the OAS Director said "that is needed along with other awareness campaigns."

Referring again to Bermuda, the diplomat said "you virtually get arrested if you drop a candy wrapper in the streets...; you can't walk around without a shirt or with `short' shorts, it (shorts) has to be of a particular length. Those laws are rigorously imposed."

He added: "They are not there as a show; the Police do enforce them and there needs to be some level of enforcement here also."

The OAS Director said he is aware that some approaches have been made to get some enforcement measures in place.

Wyllie, an Honorary Member of the Rotary of Georgetown said that the organisation plans as one of its projects for this year, to clean-up a section of the seawall, between Vlissengen Road and Le Meridien, Pegasus.

Reminded that similar projects were undertaken on numerous occasions, Wyllie said he nevertheless remains optimistic that it can remain clean.

According to him, the Mayor and City Council (M&CC) has already begun to level the area and the Rotary plans to instal some garbage bins as well as hire someone to clean-up on a regular basis.

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