The Minister was delivering remarks at the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) twenty fifth Anniversary celebrations over the weekend at the Marriot Hotel. He noted that that the Tourism industry can bring tremendous economic value to communities especially those along the Essequibo River.
Minister Gaskin opined that nature has gifted this country with “a variety of interesting habitats, an abundance of rare species and an amazing network of waterways located in hinterland communities which are ideal tourists’ attractions.”
He noted that with a nine percent average annual increase in visitors yearly, the country was looking at half a million visitors a year by 2025. A large percentage, he stated, will visit the tourist attractions located in the remote hinterland communities.
However, Gaskin said that with such expectancies, “There would need to be a lot more hinterland accommodation with high standards, more flights to and from, the hinterland, better transportation and telecommunications infrastructure connecting the hinterland to the coast and beyond.
Additionally, the Tourism Minister pointed out that more trained tour guides services, tourist activities, and security measures would be needed to ensure that visitors come and go without incidents. He cited the need for collaboration between the many different stakeholders, “in order to kick start the kind of accelerated and focused development that is needed to make hinterland tourism sustainable”.
Gaskin pointed out that regional meetings are very important in the development of the Tourism Industry. He made reference to the Department of Tourism in the Ministry of Business which has begun planning workshops for every region in order to enhance the collective understanding which tourism can play in development. These meetings will also, “Identify in each region, visitor hotspots that serve or can serve as hubs for a viable industry,” he highlighted.
“The Regional Democratic Councils are the focal points for these engagements and the local hospitality providers as well as other key stakeholders are included. The idea is to get local buy-in by encouraging local participation in the early stages,” Gaskin stated.
The Minister said that it is very important in an export industry such as tourism where there is more face to face interaction between consumer and the public than in the other export sectors, “so the collaboration is critical and the stakeholders are multiple”.
Gaskin said that THAG, as a major stakeholder, will also be engaged, specifically on hinterland tourism and how the product can be brought to a state of readiness in a way that is inclusive and provides economic benefits for the people of those regions. “I am confident in THAG. I am confident in Guyana’s Tourism industry and I am confident that our government is the right government for tourism in Guyana”.
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