Aiming high
Guyana Chronicle
July 16, 2004

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THEY have made it clear that they are not on a public relations exercise for the Kaieteur National Park, including the renowned falls, or Guyana, but there is no doubt that this country could get a giant booster shot in the arm from the Germany-based film company now shooting in the breathtaking location.

The Marco Polo Films group has brought in a unique airship that is going up over the Kaieteur National Park to shoot scenes for a 90-minute commercial film based on the park.

Company officials said the balloon-type craft is the first of its kind in the world to be used in movie making and the end product from the Guyana venture could help garner more of the type of good tidings that Guyanese so desperately need to shake off the stultifying political baggage with which they have been weighed down for so long.

The movie to be produced by Marco Polo already has premier billing and would be showcased at the `Wild Screen’ film festival in Bristol, England during October this year, officials of the company said.

Film Director, Mr. Werner Herzog said Kaieteur was chosen as the location to film for the movie because it is an area that is totally unique.

"I have worked in many countries before and have seen many spectacular places but have never seen anything like this", he commented.

(A great pity is that the vast majority of Guyanese have not yet been able to visit to glory in the splendour of the Kaieteur Falls and the surrounding area and it is to be hoped that cheap tour packages will some time soon be available to allow a greater number to get there.)

The producers are promising something new and exciting with this film from the fresh perspective the unique airship brings to filming and movie making.

Local officials are expecting the film to give Guyana's tourism potential a significant publicity boost. The idea of the movie is already sold to countries such as Australia and Japan, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in the UK, and German TV, Producer, Ms. Annette Scheurich said.

And Mr. Herzog estimates that about 100 million people will see the movie the first time round.

There is no doubt that substantial dividends could come Guyana’s way from the Marco Polo venture and Tourism Minister, Mr. Manzoor Nadir is planning to be at the film festival in England during the screening to sell this to people who may be interested in visiting.

He anticipates that the film will lure viewers from overseas to visit Guyana for a first hand look.

If it is indeed a success, Mr. Nadir and others in the tourism sector have to continue pushing on to ensure that Guyana would be ready to handle an influx of visitors to the Kaieteur area.

Given the fragile nature of the site and the damage to the environment that hordes of tourists can trigger, utmost care must be taken to guard against the downside of a venture that can lift high the profile of this country.

Although the Kaieteur National Park is unique, the authorities here can look to the experience of other countries where they have been able to reap the benefits of their natural resources without catastrophic damage.

The Marco Polo group is aiming high over Kaieteur and we wish them all success.