Auto rental industry should be supervised
Stabroek News
April 19, 2002

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Dear Editor,

I recently spent approximately one week in Guyana pursuing some business interests while vacationing as well. It is always a pleasure to visit Guyana. Though I have resided in the United States for the past 23 years, I am always cognizant of the fact that when all is said and done, Guyana is home.

I'm a realist. I understand that Guyana is a developing country. I don't expect necessarily to find all the products and services that would be readily available in the more developed regions of the world. Yet, I think it is important to point out that if Guyana would maximize its resources and make a target effort at improving the service sector, it would do significantly better in attracting tourists.

First, I would suggest that government take an active role in providing oversight of the growing auto rental industry. During my visit, I was constrained to change rental vehicles three times because the company's vehicles proved to be either mechanically unsuitable or aesthetically inferior. If there is an agency responsible for determining the roadworthiness of vehicles, the rental agency that provided my vehicles must have slipped through the cracks. Foreign visitors expect that rental vehicles would have basic safety provisions like seatbelts and properly threaded tires. I was so angered by the horrible service I received, I determined never to do business with that particular auto rental agency again.

Second, while I have seen some improvement over the years, many in the service and public sector need to practice better customer service principles. I am always intrigued that no matter what time of day one arrives at the airport in Guyana, don't ever expect a smile or a simple "welcome to Guyana" from any immigration or customs agent. You would be amazed at how far such little courtesies can go in providing visitors with fond memories.

Finally, everyone knows that lawlessness and tourism do not go hand in hand. I'm not interested in pointing fingers nor am I qualified to determine who is right and who is wrong in the current incarnation of the "police vs. the public." What I do know is that it certainly gives me pause about coming to Guyana when I hear allegations of extra judicial killings and/or assassination of law enforcement officers. Let's face it, when foreign visitors come to Guyana, we bring foreign revenue and provide cash infusion into the local economy. I would only ask that in the interest of the land many of us still call home, the appropriate parties move expeditiously to curb the problem of lawlessness.

Yours faithfully,

David E. Fraser, Sr. Intergovernmental Affairs Officer

City Manager's Office of Intergovernmental Affairs

City of Oakland, California