Rupununi being promoted as welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ tourists
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Visit Rupununi President, Melanie McTurk
Visit Rupununi President, Melanie McTurk

VISIT Rupununi and the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition on Thursday signed a Memorandum of Understanding, signifying the beginning of a partnership to promote the Rupununi region of Guyana as a warm and welcoming destination for LGBTQ+ tourists.

Visit Rupununi is a non-profit regional destination marketing and management organisation which has been developing sustainable eco-tourism products within the Rupununi region, while conserving the nature-based, traditional heritage of local indigenous peoples and the wider Rupununi region, a release said.

The Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition comprises the Guyana Trans United (GTU), SASOD Guyana and SWAG. Together, these organisations have been tirelessly advocating for the rights of LGBTQ+ people in Guyana.

Providing brief remarks before signing the historic agreement, President of Visit Rupununi, Melanie McTurk, shared details about their eco-tourism products which are centred on nature, wildlife conservation and outstanding hospitality.

While the Rupununi region has always had a good history of hosting LGBTQ+ guests in the past, Mc Turk pointed out that being able to feel safe and be respected is what everyone desires when looking for a holiday destination.

“With this in mind it is important for the Rupununi that we continue to equip ourselves with the skills and knowledge to appeal to an ever-growing market base to ensuring that all visitors to the Rupununi are treated with equal respect and consideration,” Mc Turk said.

According to the release, the Memorandum of Understanding formalises the partnership between these organisations whose common goal is to promote the Rupununi as a tourism destination that is LGBTQ+ friendly.

“One of the ways the parties to the agreement plan to do this is having the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition train members of Visit Rupununi on LGBTQ+ issues in order to sensitise their representatives. The Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition will begin by training 15-20 Visit Rupununi trainers, and the training will teach them how to deliver the training themselves within their organization,going forward,” the release said.

Noting the importance and value of the “pink dollar” internationally, Mc Turk shared that “the LGBTQ+ travel market was worth more than US$218 billion worldwide while the LGBTQ+ community in the US alone, spends 10 per cent of its purchasing power, or nearly US$100 billion, on luxury travel.”

Mc Turk went on to say that “through our collaboration with the LGBTQ+ Coalition, we will be taking the first steps to ensuring that the Rupununi is a region that is safe and welcoming to all persons regardless of race, class, or sexual orientation.”

In supporting the sentiments of the Visit Rupununi President, Simpson said that “certainly from a business perspective, the private sector understands that there is no room for discrimination, money doesn’t discriminate, when you make money, you don’t make gay or straight money.”

He went on to say that “all of us will benefit the more inclusive our society becomes in every single, sector and this is something Guyanese believe, that if we allow everybody to participate in the economy, we allow everybody to work, to earn a living without discrimination, all of us will benefit, all of us will experience development.”

“The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding signifies the beginning of a strong partnership between the Guyana LGBTQ+ Coalition and Visit Rupununi. The parties are committed to promoting Guyana as a safe and warm tourism destination that is LGBTQ+ friendly for everyone within and outside of Guyana,” the release said.

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