A smile is essential
Guyana Chronicle
February 13, 2002

I CONGRATULATE the Executive Director of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) for speaking out on some concerns in your Sunday edition.

I am an overseas-based Guyanese and I often cringe, when returning home, at the state and site of the Arrival Lounge at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri.

As the Director rightly said, a first impression for first time visitors will decide whether they'll return or not.

Our Arrival Lounge unlike others in the Caribbean is dreary - it needs a complete facelift.

I would suggest that if our country is venturing into eco-tourism, then giving tourists a preview of what's in store is essential.

Have pictures painted on the walls - of tropical birds, forest scenes, our waterfalls, etc.

The Immigration system needs a complete overhaul; it is sickening to see Immigration Officers welcoming visitors or even their own Guyanese with dry, unpleasant faces. They rarely extend a good morning or good afternoon to you, and don't even think about extending a warm smile.

What I would like them to know though is that tourism lies in the palms of their hands, since they are among the first set of people tourists will come in contact with, and a `SMILE' is essential within this industry.

However, I must congratulate the Officers in the Departure Lounge for the wonderful job they're doing.

I departed the country in January and was amazed at how those people went through their security checks; those are the type of people we need to deal with customer service.

I was going to talk about the toilets, but thanks to the Executive Director, she has begun handling the situation. We really need the change.

Here are a few areas, Ms. Executive Director, that I think you should consider, not that I'm telling you how to do your job.

The Viewing Gallery on the upstairs needs urgent attention; there are no seats there.

I remember that in 1998 there were television screens displaying the day's flight schedule, i.e. arrival and departure times of airlines and flight numbers. Some if not all should be replaced.

More security is needed outside the airport.

These are just a few areas that I can remember at this moment that should be looked into immediately.

I know that the THAG Executive Director does not have the power to do all of this work, that's why I'm calling on the Minister of Tourism, Mr. Manzoor Nadir to step up to the plate and do his part. Not forgetting the minister responsible for Aviation.

This is the first time that I have actually read or heard of Indira Anandjit and her position, and must extend congratulations to her for the ideas she has put up, and to the Government for introducing eco-tourism to the world.

I am a reporter by profession, and have training as a Travel Agent.

These overhauls are needed at our airport if tourism will become the order of the day in Guyana.