CTO appeals for sensitive media coverage

Guyana Chronicle
May 25, 2000

CARIBBEAN Tourism Organisation (CTO) Secretary-General, Mr Jean Holder has called upon the media to show sensitivity in coverage of issues arising out of its just concluded fourth annual conference on sustainable development.

The four-day meeting, which began last Friday under the theme `Keeping the Right Balance: Unlocking the Potential', ended Monday night with a gala dinner and farewell party at Georgetown Club on Camp Street, in the city.

Addressing local and foreign journalists Monday afternoon at the Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel conference venue, Holder explained that, because of the candid nature in which such discussions are conducted, there is always the likelihood of things said being taken out of context.

"This kind of discussion is discussion that exposes the strengths and the weaknesses. The minister is confronted by his constituents about things; he answers honestly about what is going on," the CTO top executive said.

Holder said it is in that sense he expects media operatives who attended to file their reports,"with the sensitivity that is important....[that they] put them in [their proper] context".

He acknowledged that making speeches and statements is a hazard which comes "with the turf of being CTO Secretary-General," and added:"So often I hear something that I said and even when it is what I said, no one says in what context I said it and I sometimes wonder who is this man talking so much foolishness".

Holder said, that fact notwithstanding, the media was still invited to cover the entire proceedings rather than having to rely on briefings to know what transpired, as happens at other such conferences.

"This is totally different. On this occasion, we have opened up to you all week; we've had you in our midst; we've not hidden anything under the rocks," he observed.

The issue of consciousness and the media had arisen earlier Monday during a panel discussion involving local stakeholders in the tourism industry when President of THAG (Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana), Captain Gerry Gouveia took exception to what he felt was the unwarranted prominence given an article by both local daily newspapers.

Gouveia, back from participating in Guyana Independence celebrations in Guyanese communities across North America, said he was particularly miffed because he and a THAG team had spent considerable time trying to convince compatriots living in Canada that the crime situation here was not as bad as they were led to believe and that Guyana has the lowest crime statistics in the Caribbean.

"...and after spending the last three days telling Guyanese across North America that our crime rate is the lowest in the world, to come and find in my papers yesterday [an article headlined] `Armed robbery: G$200,000", Gouveia said critically.

He was concerned that a robbery, the equivalent of US$1,1000, "found its place on the front page of our papers in big print...on a Sunday, [a day which enjoys] the largest circulation of papers in our country, while the CTO conference is going on."

"Somebody is not being sensitive to our country," Gouveia declared.

"We are self-destructing ourselves and that is why our tourism product and industry are not moving forward".

Repeating an earlier observation, Holder said tourism is a very invasive industry, in that it is not only mentally but physically challenging.

"It is an industry which invades the country. In other words, there are parts of Guyana that it will open up because it is in its nature to do so.

"Therefore, if it is not handled right, it can cause a lot of difficulties; difficulties which the Government will have to negotiate its way out of.

"So that, while we welcome the birth of tourism as it were, it's not a birth that is going to be painless", he warned.

Holder cautioned that "we need a number of midwives who are going to assist the process with some sensitivity and some expertise."

Seeing the media among the several midwives, he urged reporters to take into account the fact that Guyana's Trade, Tourism and Industry Minister, Mr Geoffrey DaSilva was still relatively "new to the job" and needs all the support he can get.

"... he cannot be expected to carry on his back all the scars of the past; he's just come and has made some very serious commitments. Please give him your support, as Press, so that he can get this extremely difficult job done," Holder appealed.

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