TWO tragic incidents involving tourists have prompted Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, to urge persons to only use approved tour operators.
The minister, in a statement issued on Wednesday, emphasised that persons should ensure that their tours and tour operators are approved by the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA).
A list of approved operators can be found on the ministry’s website (mintic.gov.gy/approved-tour-operators) and the Guyana Tourism Authority’s Facebook page.
“Tours that are unregulated and not approved by the Authority many times do not have the necessary safety systems and protocols in place,” she said.
Minister Walrond added that following the unfortunate events at Orinduik in October which resulted in the death of Gladstone Haynes, and more recently, the report of a missing person in the Rupununi, “the government commenced a search inquiry into these tragic incidents, in which the operations of all stakeholders, including the relevant authorities, will be examined.”
While no information was provided about the missing Rupununi traveller, a source told the Guyana Chronicle that the unidentified man was a tourist who was on a fishing trip, and was reportedly using an unlicensed tour operator.
Haynes, a New York Police Department (NYPD) veteran officer, disappeared while swimming at Orinduik Falls in the North Pakaraimas. His body was discovered three days later.
According to the minister, a key feature of the review of the tragic incidents will be a December 13 consultation with tour operators and related regulatory agencies. The aim is to develop Standard Operating Procedures and emergency measures for all tours.
“Pending the completion of the review, I urge the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, the Private Sector Commission and other private sector bodies to join our call for persons to only use operators and facilities that are approved by the GTA,” Minister Walrond said.