THE Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) is confident that the establishment of a Hospitality Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) will enable “Destination Guyana” to provide a world class experience in service delivery.
In a press statement issued on Tuesday, the Association said that it is extremely pleased to see that Guyana’s National 2021 Budget, including a grand sum of $185 million to kick start construction of the long-awaited training institute.
“This facility will not only boost our human capital but it will empower vulnerable groups and play a critical role in rural development,” THAG said.
The association assured that it will continue partnering and working with the Government of Guyana throughout all phases of this project, including the design of an operational model that satisfies the needs of more than 1,800 students to be trained and certified annually.
The establishment of a Tourism Hospitality Training Institute has been on the cards for several years now. As a matter of fact, in 2014, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government had budgeted some US$4 million for the construction of the institute. Later in 2019, the Coalition Government had announced the award of a US$250,000 contract to finance the building’s design. At that time, the land for the project was being finalised.
In December 2020, shortly after the PPP/C was voted back into office, the government said that the Caribbean Development Bank had approved a US$11 million (approximately $2.3 billion) loan for the development of the institute.
Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for Finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, recently announced the latest allocation for the project, as he presented the country’s $383.1 billion 2021 budget.
During his presentation to the National Assembly last week, Dr. Singh said that the institute is projected to have the capacity to offer certificate, diploma, associate degree and degree courses in areas relating to tourism and hospitality.
Singh said that the advancement of the tourism sector has been severely hampered by significant skills gaps existing at all levels. This has often been compounded by the fact that there exist few opportunities for trainings to be done locally.
“To address this glaring mismatch between demand and supply, in 2021, work will commence on the construction of the Hospitality Tourism Training Institute (HTTI) for students to be trained and certified annually,” Dr. Singh said.
He noted that the institute is being pursued as a means of supporting the growth and development of tourism as a rapidly emerging sector that should be equipped to provide a world class experience in service delivery.
The Finance Minister, in his presentation, informed that Guyana currently has in excess of 150 hotels, along with 30 resorts and lodges that provide an approximate room capacity of 3,400. “Most of these accommodations can be characterised as traditional and rustic establishments with only a small number of business-oriented accommodation properties of international standard,” Dr. Singh highlighted
With the emergence of a promising Oil and Gas Industry, Guyana has embarked on a course of rapid transformational development.
“These initial incoming investments will add an additional 1,000 hotel rooms in the near term and potentially a total of 2,000 to 3,000 rooms in the medium term, catalysing the development of the accommodation subsector and dramatically improving overall industry standards,” Singh said, as he referred to some developmental projects currently in the pipeline.
The Finance Minister reminded that the global tourism industry is among the most affected sectors by the COVID-19 pandemic, with an estimated decline of 70 to 75 per cent in international arrivals, when compared with 2019. “In Guyana, visitor arrivals are estimated to have fallen by 72.5 per cent in 2020 – from 314,727 in 2019 to 86,503 in 2020. With measures in place to limit transmission of the virus, the tourism and hospitality industry came to a standstill, halting travel experiences, in-person engagements and virtually every other aspect of the industry,” Dr. Singh posited.
He also emphasized the government’s commitment towards advancing and expanding domestic tourism, as well as catering to the traveling needs of Guyanese in the wide diaspora.