The nexus between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the tourism sector in Guyana is much more meaningful and interdependent than what is usually presented. There is no doubt that with the new petroleum finds and the pristine biodiversity of our forested areas, tourism can be seen as a main economic contributor to the economy as visitors travel to these breathtaking destinations. Thus, tourism, specifically eco-tourism, has the potential to create beneficial effects on the environment by contributing to environmental protection and conservation. Activities in protected areas serve as a way to raise awareness of environmental values and can serve as a tool to finance the protection of natural areas, and increase their economic importance.
On the contrary, the impacts of tourism are linked to the construction of general infrastructure, such as roads and airports, and of tourism facilities, including resorts, hotels, restaurants, shops, and golf courses. Thus, the negative impacts of tourism development can gradually destroy the environmental resources on which it depends.
As such, the Agency contributes both directly and indirectly to the development of our beloved, transforming country of Guyana. The EPA mandate is linked to tourism as it allows for both setting of permit and compliance conditions for projects that facilitate tourism-related activities.
This way, the EPA’s permit conditions will vary to accommodate different activities that fall under the tourism sector. In addition to permitting and compliance, the EPA also conducts investigations into complaints as with other sectors, in keeping with its mandate to promote, facilitate and coordinate effective environmental management and protection; and the sustainable use of Guyana’s natural resources.
Finally, the EPA is responsible for ensuring that tourism operations comply with the Agency’s rules and regulations. This entails the Environmental Authorization process which identifies potential sources of pollution and proposes measures that would minimize negative impacts. To this end, periodic inspections and monitoring systems are implemented to existing operations such as hotels and resorts, etc., to continue the beneficial relationship between the EPA and the tourism sector.
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