Creating a New Image

GUYANA has a rich culture. This richness is the result of our diversity and multi-culturalism which makes us as a society unique and distinctive.  With a vast mix of ethnic backgrounds, traditions, religious festivals, cuisine, architecture and landscapes, Guyana is truly a natural and cultural topical paradise, unmatched in the region.

We sometimes take our uniqueness and our beauty for granted. So often, it is left for foreigners and overseas tourists to remind us of how beautiful a country we are, and of our warmth and hospitality. Many are smitten by the natural beauty of the country. Renowned British travel writer John Gimlette, in an article published some time ago in the popular British newspaper ‘The Daily Telegraph’ under the caption, ‘Guyana-A Journey into the Jurassic’, described Guyana as ‘a garden built by God, inhabited by survivors, and where life is lived to the fullest.’ According to the writer, during his visits to the interior, he met people ‘whose ancestors have figured in English literature for 400 years’.

Gimlette was particularly fascinated by the interior locations of Guyana. His description of the small village of Surama in the Rupununi is worth repeating: “Here spreading southwards, they have their own world – a great, golden grassland the size of Scotland. Walked in at the far end by some of the oldest mountains on Earth, there’s nowhere quite like it. The lilies are five feet wide, and sandpaper grows on trees. Even the animals feel curiously like Jurassic. Here the world’s largest ants, otters and anteaters, and its biggest fish – the Arapaima.’ In chronicling his experiences in his travels to the interior, this is what he had to say; ‘Out in the savannahs, nature rules. It’s a beautiful, half-finished land, rimmed with mountains like purple teeth and dappled in brilliant birds.”

This fountain of beauty and elegance is recognised by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, who pledged to transform Guyana into the number one eco-destination in this part of the region. This commitment was made during a recent feature address at the Guyana Tourism Awards Gala where he emphasised that his administration will soon embark on massive development in the tourism sector in order for the country to enjoy a competitive advantage. According to President Ali, this vision for Guyana is very clear to the government and will be complemented by the level of visibility that the oil and gas sector has brought to the country. Oil and gas has certainly catapulted the country on the national stage but it is now for us to use that prominence to market the country holistically and in a multi-dimensional way.

As noted by the President, Guyana has a quality tourism product which is sustainable, long-lasting and impactful on people and communities. Guyana, the President said, must be promoted not just as a place but as a total experience. In this regard, local products will be encouraged and put on the market including Christmas cards, locally produced gifts and pieces of arts and crafts.

The President took the opportunity to inform the public of plans to do major development works on the Georgetown seawall in order to get the greatest economic value out of the seawall which has now become a popular recreational spot. In addition, the old train wagons including the old shed in the city will be rehabilitated and the entire stretch converted into a local art gallery, food courts and local restaurants.

These are indeed forward looking ideas which will greatly enhance the image of the country and serve as a boost to tourism in Guyana. Already, the country is rated among the best tourism destinations not only in the region but in the world and these new interventions by the government will certainly broaden the tourism frontiers and make the country an attractive destination, second to none. We may not have the blue waters but we certainly have what few countries can offer – eco-tourism and a warm and hospitable people.


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