Guyana re-defining tourism with inclusive, community focus
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Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond interacts with US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch (DPI photo)
Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister, Oneidge Walrond interacts with US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch (DPI photo)

–Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond

IN the interest of ensuring its wider economic and social impact, subject minister Oneidge Walrond has stressed the need for re-defining tourism with an inclusive community focus in mind.

The minister conveyed the foregoing sentiments as she delivered remarks at a reception hosted by US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch on Monday in celebration of World Tourism Day.

World Tourism Day is celebrated across the globe on 27 September.

This year, the event is being celebrated under the theme, “Re-thinking Tourism”, which, according to Minister Walrond, offers a framework for the reorienting of the future of tourism, particularly with inclusivity in mind.

“It is incumbent upon me to pause for a moment to speak a bit about our approach to inclusion; what it means, generally, and what it means in the context of tourism in particular,” she said.

The minister pointed to the government’s support of tourism development efforts in every single region of Guyana, and support of hundreds of small business owners from all sections of society as some of the ways in which it illustrates its inclusivity.

“I think it is incumbent upon me, especially in the face of persistent accusations leveled at us, to pause for a moment to speak a bit about our approach to inclusion.

With respect to social and economic development, for us, inclusion means that the services that we deliver and the programmes we implement must benefit all Guyanese. And this means all Guyanese, regardless of who they are, where they live, their ethnic origin, their political persuasion or any other characteristic by which anyone may seek to classify and compartmentalise us,” Minister Walrond said, adding:

“I should emphasise that our commitment to inclusion is manifested in our programmes in every sector: In education, in health, in agriculture, in tourism and all others. With respect to tourism, I wish to give you some insight into how our commitment to inclusion operates by making reference to our current hosting of the Caribbean Premier League. I think this actually serves as a very good example of how our approach to social and economic development places us on the cutting edge of Re-thinking Tourism as regards inclusion.”

The Government was instrumental in pursuing and supporting Guyana’s bid to host the finals of the much celebrated CPL, in addition to hosting a number of other matches being played by the national team, the Guyana Amazon Warriors.

“Pursuing this opportunity required courage and vision, for when we did so, the potential benefits were not apparent to most people. We, however, had our eyes firmly on the fundamentals of the situation. Our commitment to securing the rights to the CPL finals was part of our strategy for inclusive development,” Minister Walrond said.

A section of the gathering at the reception hosted by the US Ambassador on Monday to celebrate World Tourism Day (DPI photo)

Over the past few weeks, Guyanese have continuously flocked the National Stadium, well decked out in their Amazon Warriors outfits and other paraphernalia as the country united in support behind the team.

“We had our sights set not only on the primary revenue streams associated with the cricket itself,” she said, “but also on capturing wider benefits that such an event could bring to a broad cross-section of ordinary people in many sectors. Indeed, this was the primary motivation for the twinning of cricket with Carnival!”

According to Minister Walrond, thousands of Guyanese are able to derive significant benefit from the staging of this tournament.

“They are able to benefit as a direct result of our commitment to inclusion. It is that commitment that drove us to design the overall architecture of CPL and Cricket Carnival, with its attached signature events over a two-week period,” the minister said.

The hosting of the CPL ensures opportunities for meaningful participation by small, medium and microenterprises right down to the individual sole proprietor.

Aside from inclusivity, Minister Walrond underscored the country’s direction towards community-based-and-led tourism initiatives, and the re-thinking of tourism as a focus on communities and rural development.

The country continues to look towards tourism as one of the sectors in which strategic focus is being placed for the diversification of economy.

The minister noted that particularly in the case of tourism in Indigenous communities, facilities and activities are aimed at being fully integrated into the way of life of the community, enabling visitors to receive authentic experiences of what it means to live in a sustainable manner.

According to the minister, particular care is taken in these settings to ensure that the tourism product being offered is in line with the values of the communities, and does not disturb community well-being.

The minister stressed that other preservation trends include digital and contactless processing along the entire spectrum of the tourist experience, rural development through tourism, growth of domestic tourism, and promotion of alternative destinations within a particular jurisdiction to avoid overcrowding.

“Our interventions throughout the pandemic have, in varying degrees, been broadly reflective of these trends,” she said, adding: “For example, the stay-at-home-and roam promotion of outdoor experiences, development of tourism products in every region, digital.  This year’s theme urges us to critically evaluate our concept of and approach to tourism in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic experience constituted a powerful enabler and driver of change, and it is this driving force that is behind the call for “Re-thinking Tourism”.

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