Some resorts did good world cup business By Nicosia Smith
Stabroek News
April 16, 2007

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Guyana's eco-tourism offering may have slipped off the agenda of some Cricket World Cup (CWC) visitors, here for the CWC Super Eight matches, as eco-tourist resorts gave mixed reviews for the period.

Some 40,000 persons reportedly came to Guyana from February 1 this year with 16,000 through the Single Domestic Space format, where the nine host Caricom countries are one domestic space for the CWC.

The country saw a large percentage of overseas-based Guyanese but there was also an expectation that more foreign tourists would have visited.

While some tour operators and resorts reported maximum capacity, others said CWC-related tourists were few or did not get any bookings at all.

Gerry Gouveia of Arrow-point Nature Resort whose office is at R8, Eping Avenue said the resort operated at 100% capacity for three weeks, and this was the first time it had operated at that level for such an extended period. This, Gouveia said, was very challenging but they were prepared for it. Arrow-point's increased business saw three flights daily to Kaieteur Falls along with five to six day-tours daily to the resort in the Demerara River. Groups of ten also overnighted at the resort.

Among the visitors were international media, overseas-based Guyanese and tourists from South Africa and Australia. A large percentage of the bookings were also made online. "We took a lot, a lot of people to Kaieteur."

Already Arrowpoint has begun receiving bookings for the summer and Gouveia noted that in terms of bookings, "this year I am actually very excited."

Evergreen Adventure Inc. which owns Baganara Resort also reported increased business. Evergreen's manager, Abdoul Ba told Stabroek News that business was greater than what they normally have. This meant, he said, three daily flights to Kaieteur Falls and a few daytime river tours to Baganara Resort in the Essequibo River. The Irish cricket team visited Kaieteur and Baganara and the New Zealand cricket team enjoyed a day tour by river to Baganara.

Among the clients of the day tours were local tourists and a few foreigners.

"It was very hectic for us," Ba declared, adding that some requests for day tours and trips to Kaieteur Falls could not be facilitated because of a lack of covered boats and several bookings for flights to Kaieteur. There were some 13 aircraft at Kaieteur at one given time, Ba said, noting that "this was exceptional."

Not slighting the aircraft operators for not having sufficient flights, he said that their capacity will increase once the tourism sector grows. And he asked, "How often things like these happen in Guyana? In reference to the CWC Super Eight matches here, Ba summed up that "it was excellent for Evergreen," noting that much marketing was done.

But another Essequibo River resort was not smiling about its proceeds from CWC and felt the distance to the resort may have put them out of reach for time conscious tourists here for the cricket.

"We got no business from the cricket at all," said Kit Nascimento, an associate at Hurakabra River Resort that sits on the west bank of the Essequibo River. The resort was registered on the Guyana Tourism Authority website and on the Local Organising Committee website, in addition to local advertisements. There was also advertising in the Guyana Where and What, distributed at the airport to visitors and to cricket teams.

In February, Hurakabra opened and Nascimento had expected much business spinning off from the CWC matches. His perception is that the teams may have had limited time to spare, since apart from the match days there were practice sessions. The time factor would have also been considered by visitors since it takes one hour to Parika and another hour to the resort, he said, and this may not have fitted into their schedules.

Nascimento noted that it did not appear that anything was organized to attract visitors outside of Georgetown other than to famous attractions like the Kaieteur Falls. It is his view that the expectation also was that a large number of tourists would have remained in the country.

"Whether there will be any future booking from (the) period," said Nascimento, remains to be seen since it is possible that persons who had viewed the matches on television would be interested in coming to Guyana.

During this period the Hurakabra hosted members from the diplomatic community and domestic tourists. This newly-opened resort offers bird watching, jungle walks and river tours, among other nature-based activities.

"We were very disappointed," said Camille Janniere at Timberhead Resort. The resort is located 15 miles from Georgetown in the Demerara River and one travels by boat for approximately 45 minutes.

Janniere said that there was no increase in their bookings and bookings continued at the same rate as last year. The clients at Timberhead during the CWC period were overseas-based Guyanese and some domestic tourists.

And there was at least one resort that refused overseas bookings in favour of local clients. Shanklands Rainfor-est Resort Manager Bernard Lee Yong at 232 Camp and Middle Streets indicated that two overseas-based companies each requested the resort for the Easter weekend but this was refused to facilitate local bookings.

He said that their local clients over the years normally book the Easter weekend and these bookings were facilitated. He said, however, that the resort did host a few persons who came to Guyana for the CWC.