Tourism on the move

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TOURISM is one of the world’s fastest growing industries, as well as the major source of foreign exchange earning and employment for many developing countries. World tourism demand continues to exceed expectations, showing resilience against extraneous factors.
According to the UNWTO World tourism Barometer, released (November 2006):
* In the first eight months of 2006, international tourist arrivals totalled 578 million worldwide (+4.5%), up from 553 million in the same period of 2005, a year which saw an all-time record of 806 million people travelling internationally.
* Growth is expected to continue in 2007 at a pace of around 4% worldwide.”
Tourism is vital to the well-being of many countries because of the income generated by the consumption of goods and services by tourists, the taxes levied on businesses in the tourism industry, and the opportunity for employment and economic advancement by working in the industry. (Source: Wikipedia).
The Government of Guyana, recognising the potential of the local tourism sector to push the national economy, has been doing everything within its capacity to facilitate the growth of the local tourism industry. And this has been supported by the reality of what is happening in the local tourism sector.
During the debate on the National Budget, Minister of Tourism and Industry, Manniram Prashad, made some important revelations which support the fact that the tourism sector is on a sound footing and is progressing. It must be remembered that this achievement is against the background of a non-existent tourism sector when this government assumed office.
“Tourism supports thousands of jobs and creates employment for many Guyanese. It also generates revenue and foreign exchange; and has been, increasingly, attracting both local and foreign investors. Many of our hinterland communities have seen and are enjoying the benefits of tourism as a means of livelihood,” Prashad stated.
He said the sector’s expansion is evident in the 2010 record- breaking visitor arrivals, which points directly to visitors’ confidence in Guyana, as well as the success of the marketing initiatives and programmes of the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), in collaboration with the private sector.
Continuing, Prashad said: “In 2010, Guyana saw a record- breaking year for arrivals, with a 6.3 per cent increase over 2009, despite the world financial crisis. For the first time, Guyana has achieved the milestone figure of 150,141 arrivals.”
He mentioned that the United States accounts for 54.7 per cent; the Caribbean 19.3 per cent; Canada 16.7 per cent; Europe 5.5 per cent; South/Central America 2.2 per cent, and the rest of the world 1.6 per cent.
In this regard, there has been a recent significant development, the announcement by Caribbean Airlines to have direct flights between New York and Guyana. For a very long time the absence of such a flight has been hampering a greater influx of tourists to Guyana. Maybe the signal by the government to introduce competition and to get back into the business of air travel sent a message to Caribbean Airlines. Of course a direct flight from the United States will benefit Guyana and bring comfort to the thousands from the Guyanese diaspora who visit their homeland.
It is also most welcome that the airline has publicly apologized to Guyanese for the experience of Guyanese during the stop over in Trinidad on their way to Guyana.
As the old adage goes: ‘Better late than never.”