‘Ubudi’ Eco-Lodge commissioned at Moraikobai
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Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, cuts the ceremonial ribbon to officially commission the eco-lodge (DPI photo)
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, cuts the ceremonial ribbon to officially commission the eco-lodge (DPI photo)

–will boost the community’s eco-tourism potential

TOURISM in Moraikobai, the only Indigenous community in Region Five, was given a boost with the commissioning of a new eco-lodge that will cater for tourists, who wish to make overnight trips to the community.

The newly constructed eco-lodge was officially commissioned on Monday by Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, who was accompanied by British High Commissioner to Guyana, Jane Miller.

Minister Walrond, during her feature address, said that tourism development is a priority of the government, as it has the potential of being one of the top income earners for the country.

“The eco-tourism product is about sustainability, the fact that it can last, because we want to make it last. We will never cut down the forest because that is what’s going to attract people to Guyana, we will never get rid of our flora or fauna because that’s what’s going to bring people here, so that’s why eco-tourism is sustainable, so you are all a part of this,” Minister Walrond related.

She noted that President, Dr. Irfaan Ali has a passion for Guyana’s rich biodiversity and tourism product.
“I see Moraikobai and I see that this is the vision that he [President Ali] has, that government has, that tourism is not just about a small lodge, that this is the beginning of big things for Guyana,” Minister Walrond said.

The minister noted that the establishment of the eco-lodge is just the beginning of greater things in the community.  She said that the goal must be to offer visitors accommodations that are on par with other countries.

Traditional dancers welcome the visiting team (DPI photo)

In her view, visitors must have access to different tiers of experiences, be it rustic, mid-range or luxury experiences. To widen the list of activities here, the government will be advertising for Expressions of Interest for eco-lodges.

“This is a developmental strategy that the government has engaged on, that we have decided that our economy should not be an oil and gas economy alone, but it should also be a diversified economy, where tourism is going to be a way for you to feed your families for generations to come.

“People are going to be coming to these lodges many, many decades from now, coming to your lodges, coming to experience this beautiful Moraikobai, and continue to do it in a sustainable fashion and continue to understand that what you are selling here is the nature, the pristineness,” Minister Walrond said.

She urged the community to look at how they deal with waste and protecting the wildlife.
“This is just the beginning; the best is yet to come. We will continue to work with you to make sure that Moraikobai is one of the flagship tourism products, because this is the only Amerindian community in Region Five, we are building out in all the other regions so you have that attention,” Minister Walrond said.

The British High Commission donated a photovoltaic solar system that will power the facility.
In brief remarks, High Commissioner Miller said that the commission has been working with the Government of Guyana for some time. She said the government is keen on creating more jobs and developing tourism as part of the economic development strategy.

“It’s such a beautiful country, people want to visit places like this and so we are very keen to support the government and within the tourism sector, eco-tourism is one of the key things.

“There are some countries we are really working hard to reduce their carbon footprint, but for Guyana, it’s protecting these beautiful forests, not just because they are beautiful, not just because they are a tourist attraction, but because they are the lungs of the earth and we need to be protecting those forests. So, this project is one of those win wins, it’s bringing together tourism and jobs, it’s looking at how you protect your forests and how we actually save our environment at the same time,” she added.

Deputy Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Kamrul Baksh said the project is a collaborative effort among the Ministry Amerindian Affairs, the Regional Democratic Council of Region Five, GTA, the British High Commission and Wilderness Explorers.

He noted that the commissioning of the eco-lodge is a significant milestone for Moraikobai in tourism development, and the GTA will stand by the community to see that this development continues.

Toshao of the village, Derrick John, also said that the eco-lodge has long been a dream for the community, which is now realised.

He related that there will be additional phases that will see the expansion of the facility to cater for more visitors, riverside bar and beach area.
The visiting team was given a tourist experience, viewing the processing of cassava, sampling traditional beverages, among other activities.

(DPI)

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