Yachts boom likely
-- Tourism authority head By Shawnel Cudjoe
Guyana Chronicle
November 2, 2006

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STAKEHOLDERS in Guyana tourism are pursuing strategies to develop niche markets in lesser known avenues to ensure the sector continues to develop.

Addressing a small gathering at the Umana Yana in Georgetown yesterday afternoon at a function to launch Tourism Awareness Month, Chairman of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Mr Brian James said these include bird watching.

Guyana currently has more than 800 species of birds, hundreds of which can be found at resorts such as Shanklands and Baganara, he said.

Community tourism, which affords visitors the opportunity to live day to day in the hinterland regions like natives, and yachting and sailing, are also being given priority, he said.

According to James, it was discovered that yachters are moving south because of changes in the weather patterns and there are no natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes in Guyana.

To this end, he said, Bartica has been identified as a port of entry for yachts and in the next two weeks, the first local yachting guide book will be published, he announced, projecting that this will boom here.

Other types of tourism being considered, he reported, include cultural tourism, “because it gives an influx of people at various times of the year in numbers we can handle”.

Sports tourism is another aspect in which Guyana has already demonstrated its ability by hosting swimming, bodybuilding and rugby tournaments, he said. James new other aspects on the agenda are frontier, health and industrial tourism.

He said Guyana’s tourism industry is gradually gaining recognition with stories about the country being featured on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and in the National Geographic and other magazines in England and the United States.

He said a team from the BBC is in Guyana to film a five part series on the country, the details of which are still being worked out.

According to James, by year end, two new air carriers should be operational in Guyana to take tourists to hinterland destinations.

He pointed out that although Guyana is rich in eco-tourism due to its diverse geographical features, the tourism sector faces many challenges in taking advantage of what is being offered.

Among these challenges are a lack of infrastructure in these areas, rugged terrain, high cost of putting products together, limited accommodation and parts of the country can only be reached by air sometimes.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Mr Manniram Prashad, commended the private sector for its dedication to the tourism industry and the sacrifices made to promote it.

He stressed that the Government is also pushing marketing and product development and to this end, Guyana has participated in shows in Europe, Germany, Canada and the U.S.

President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Ms Cathy Hughes, said the country needs to blend its warmth, good service and opportunities available in tourism to create an attractive tourist destination which can hold its own in a viable marketplace.

She pointed out that there are jobs available in the service sector and the problem of unemployment can be turned around if sufficient training is done to perform these jobs.

Several events such as mini exhibitions in Berbice and Bartica, and schools debating competitions are planned for the month which is being observed under the theme “Educating and Promoting Guyana…Naturally.”

Declaring open Tourism Awareness Month was acting President Samuel Hinds.