Nadir sets the record straight To the Editor
Guyana Chronicle
May 10, 2002

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I respond to Stabroek News March 27, 2002 article “Onus on Government to set Tourism Development Policy - Hoyte.”

What Mr. Hoyte has been speaking about, government is already doing and that policy was established very early in the administration. This I posit is why Mr. Hoyte can conclude that the prospect for tourism is bright.

Below are the main points raised and what has been done so far by government to build the tourism industry.

The article focused specifically on the fact that the onus was the government’s to create a facilitating environment for the development of the tourism industry. Particular reference was made to a favourable tax regime and attractive incentives; simple immigration and visa requirements and a welcoming environment; and creation and promotion of a tourist image.

The government recognises that one of its principal roles is to create a facilitating environment, which will foster the development of a viable tourism industry in Guyana. In this regard, it perceives the private sector as the ‘engine of growth,’ and itself as facilitator and supporter. As a consequence, it developed an incentive package for the tourism sector in 1995 for ‘encouraging an increase in the number of hotels and other facilities in the tourism sector.” This has stimulated investment, particularly from local entrepreneurs in hotel construction, expansion and refurbishment, resort development and growth in tour operations. The result has been greater satisfaction levels for visitors to Guyana.

In addition, the level of incentives offered for duty and consumption tax remissions were doubled from 25 per cent of total investment to 50 per cent for new and expanding properties. Moreover, the 10 per cent room tax has been waived for all interior lodges and resorts.

One of the major barriers to the promotion and development of tourism to Guyana was the visa requirement for non-nationals. In recognition of this, the government in 1993 abolished this procedure for citizens of the USA, Canada, UK, Continental Europe, Scandinavian and some Commonwealth countries. In addition, Customs and Immigration Officers have been trained continuously in the area of customer service for the tourism industry. As a result a more friendly and welcoming environment is provided for visitors to Guyana and immigration procedure are made less arduous. This is completed by a Tourism Information Booth which provides a wide range of information on tourism specifically and Guyana generally. The Ministry also hosts welcome receptions for visitors as specific times of the year and for specific events, example, Mashramani and Christmas.

It is government’s policy to promote Guyana as a nature based and an eco-tourism destination. To this end, it has actively encouraged investment in and the development of this type of product. This is the image we have created about Guyana, which is transmitted in all promotional and collateral material such as brochures, posters videos and tourist guides.

The development of a well planned, managed and viable tourism industry for Guyana is well on the way. Government has taken the onus to develop strategies and has acted in more than a cosmetic way.

Mr. Hoyte admitted during the same speech he gave that his administration “studied” the sector from 1986-1992. What the government has tangibly done so far, though highlighted earlier, is 1993 - abolish the visa requirements; 1995 - incentive regime; 1996 - overall strategy outlined in the NDS; 1992-2002 - support overseas promotion campaign; and 2002 - enhance incentive package pass to Tourism Authority Bill.

Your readers should now have the government’s position on tourism and be able to judge which administration talks and which works.
Minister Manzoor Nadir.