What is really needed to make tourism a success in Guyana?

What is really needed to make tourism a success in Guyana?

Oct 30, 2017 News, https://www.kaieteurnewsonline...a-success-in-guyana/

THAG President weighs in

By Kiana Wilburg

What prevents Guyana from achieving the same level of success in the tourism industry as its Caribbean counterparts? Is it really the absence of blue seas and white sand beaches? Is it the high crime rate and poor hospitality services? Or is the problem, way more complex than it appears on the surface?

President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Shaun McGrath recently weighed in on this issue during an informative session at the inaugural business summit of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

According to McGrath, there is national recognition that tourism contributes between six and nine percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and brings in a minimum of US $250 million in foreign currency every year.

The THAG President noted, however, that if the Government of Guyana wants tourism to play its part in the long term development of the country, then some fundamental changes will be required. He said that these can be broken into several categories.

Starting off with production development, McGrath said that people may want to visit Guyana to see the majesty of its interior, but that is not enough. He said that visitors need to be able to get here easily and affordably. Then, when they get there, he said that they need places to stay, things to see, great service and to feel safe and secure.

McGrath said that, this is where some of Guyana’s greatest challenges lie.

The THAG President noted that Guyana’s competitiveness as a tourism destination obviously depends to a great extent, on the cost and ease of access to the country. At present, he said that the lack of air access by recognised and accepted carriers into Guyana is a barrier to the expansion of the industry.

McGrath believes that more competition on routes will lead to higher standards of service, as well as lower prices. He commented that the introduction of services by major international carriers will also encourage more established tour operators in Europe and North America to market Guyana as a tourism destination. He noted, too, that there needs to be more work done on this front by government if it is to move the sector forward.

He said that the center of the Guyana tourism product is currently based in the Rupununi, where a series of small lodges have evolved over the years. McGrath expressed that there is a need to develop such facilities across the country but if this is to happen, there needs to be a comprehensive approach to making this a reality.

“This needs to include educating Guyanese on the benefits of getting involved in tourism, an incentive regime to help willing investors bring new products to the market, customer and operations service training and marketing and business skills.”

Given the infancy of the sector in Guyana, McGrath suggested that a comprehensive set of incentives be introduced to help the tourism product to expand.

The scope of the concessions should cover several areas, he said. McGrath suggested it should include duty-free importation, including waivers of Value Added Tax of building materials and equipment during construction and rehabilitation; duty-free importation, including waivers of Value Added Tax of supplies for building/refurbishment of hotels, resorts, lodges, restaurants, and sports and recreation facilities for tourism purposes; and extended tax holidays/write-off of capital expenditure and accelerated write-off of interest with the amount being dependent of the size of the property or value of the investment.

Additionally, McGrath said that once tourists get to their destination, they will obviously want things to do and things to see. Apart from the rainforest, savannahs and wildlife, McGrath insisted that there needs to be a national programme that develops, refurbishes and maintains national heritage sites and museums, not just for the tourists but for the future generations of Guyanese.

He pointed out that the Guyana National Trust needs to be adequately funded by central government so that it can preserve the 400 documented “things of interest” on their books. He said that this includes commemorative monuments to tombs. McGrath also stressed that the allocation of $65M in the 2016 budget is inadequate and needs to be seriously increased.

“We also need to encourage the expansion of existing and development of new recreational facilities. We should encourage the development of local attractions in villages and towns, highlighting what makes them unique and special, creating points of interest for tourists and local employment.”

“We should have a sugar museum that highlights the profound impression it has made on the history and identity of Guyana. We need to expand existing signature events like Rodeo and Regatta and create events like an International Kite Flying Festival at Easter.”

Furthermore, McGrath noted that poor customer service is one of the greatest challenges in Guyana in all areas of business and especially in the tourism industry.

“We have an advantage in that we have naturally friendly and hospitable people and that cannot be taught. However, there is a serious need for training in customer service and in vocational training to get our people prepared to work in International tourism.”

“There were budgetary allocations made several years ago for the creation of a tourism and hospitality institute to provide a trained workforce. This has not materialised and THAG would encourage Government to put this back on the front burner.”

Furthermore, the THAG President said that visitor security should be an absolute priority throughout Guyana. He commented that this must be guaranteed on all levels simultaneously.

In addition to education for the police force on dealing with tourists, he said that visitor protection will be achieved by educating the public to look out for tourists and their safety and to discourage crimes against tourists within their own communities.

In relation to the police, McGrath commented that enhanced visitor security needs to be addressed through training for the police force on interaction with tourists, a permanent police presence in the major thoroughfares and the posting of more police on the streets to deter petty crimes.

On the importance of marketing, he recalled that three years ago, after extensive local and international consultations and focus groups by a UK based company called Acorn, destination Guyana was rebranded as “Guyana, South America Undiscovered.”

He said that with this came from a three year comprehensive marketing plan with a three year budget of US $3 million or US $1 million per year.

In the real world of international tourism, where annual marketing budgets run from $8 million to $30 million, this sum may seem insignificant. McGrath noted however that it was the first time Guyana had a workable and affordable plan that could make a difference.

“But there was no money allocated for its implementation and so we continue to lose ground to our competitors. Over the years, the private sector has suggested ways of funding the marketing of destination Guyana.”

“One idea was the introduction of an airport departure tax which was adopted but the funds were never directed to the marketing effort. Given current airport passenger numbers, the Government is collecting in excess of US $4 million per annum in departure tax and should direct some of this to the marketing effort required.”

The THAG President said that one needs to remember that the importance of integrated product development and marketing cannot be over-stated.

He emphasised that marketing without product development is risky; and product development without an accompanying marketing strategy is often futile.

To be continued…

I tried to explain to caribj that Guyana's biggest crutch is that it does not have the blue water and white sand beaches.  Only a limited market will exist for eco tourism exclusively. Many people will come for the blue water and do eco tourism as a side activity.  Throw in pnc thiefman robbing and killing tourists and essentially tourism will suffer.  Guyana have been described as a broken country by tourists, with danger of malaria, robbery, garbage, poor infra structure, poor hospitality and political instability. 

Tourism is the cheapest industry a country can have, but the government MUST invest in tourism , like you stated above you need good infra structure, clean streets and neighbourhoods, good health care and security.  Promote Eco Tourism, hunting, fishing, have tours to the Amerindian's villages, sale of native crafts such as hammocks, baskets, bags, cosmetic jewelry , cassava bread, jams, casreep, . Have guided tours to sugar factories and rice mills. you go to many Caribbean Islands and they offer these tours at a price. Guyana has potential, but there must be trust by the people and government.

Bird watching is for old white people. However, tourism is not going anywhere with the current day drag. Eco-tourism is more like it in Guyana, but foreigners are learning of the danger of our country. I once said Guyana is a perfect location for the popular TVseries, "Survivor" that is being filmed in many destinations around the world, but never once considered Guyana. That should tell you a lot about mystery Guyana. I would advise folks to visit Linden, Agricola and Buxton on their next trip to Guyana paradise.

Drugb posted:

I tried to explain to caribj that Guyana's biggest crutch is that it does not have the blue water and white sand beaches.   

Jamaica and the DR are high crime places, worse than Guyana, so that isn't the issue.

Does Guyana have the potential to attract 500k visitors?  Of course not.  But if Dominica can attract 70k visitors based on being the "Nature Isle" I fail to see why Guyana cannot do at least that.  As of now if you back out returning Guyanese, and business people and islanders coming to visit friends and on rare moments watch international level cricket, we have maybe 10k annually.

Guyana has no tourist product packaged and ready to market. It takes a really committed person to pull together an itinerary and the few tour operators which offer Guyana price us considerably higher than they di Suriname. 

I saw an article in the NYT where a visitor came to Guyana for one week, but spent the entire time trying to get a tour into the interior organized.  The flights were canceled "because there weren't enough passengers", or because some big man decided to charter the plane to handle whatever illicit dealings that he was engaged in.

Guyanese need to go to Suriname and learn what they are doing, because Suriname has been able to attract 100k visitors, aside from overseas based Surinamers.  You actually see European tourists walking around P'bo.

Delta flew to Guyana and 90% of the passengers were Guyanese and the rest were on business, so the presence of a major carrier doesn't automatically mean anything.  If/when JetBlue comes they will fly in NY based Guyanese. Without a eco/adventure professional packaged product they aren't going to sell it.

Guyana can start by selling packages to Europeans who spend 2 weeks on Barbados, which is easily accessible to Guyana.  Despite what druggie thinks as people are more aware of melanoma spending the entire day on the beach is not seen as wise.  Barbados can get old quite quick as it is a small island, and adventurous types want something new to experience.

Guyana can package joint tours combined with Suriname.  In fact there is a market for a Guianas trip.

Guyana has a different product than the Caribbean.  We will never have a huge tourist industry, but to wail as Druggie does, as he hangs with his low class people who lurk in sterile tourist deserts like Punta Cana and Cancun, that Guyana can never have tourism is nonsense.

But of course we have destroyed much of our tourist product.  Look at P'bo with its well preserved cultural heritage present in its buildings.  Guyanese think "dat is old house" and tear it down and erect a monstrosities that threaten to put Guyana up at the top of the ladder for carbon emissions. This because of the tremendous costs to air condition these buildings which make sense in Toronto but NOT in Georgetown.

We no longer have a middle class who value aesthetics.  We have a bunch of low class money grubbers like Druggie who don't value Guyana's heritage, so we have lost it.  City Hall should be a heritage site.  Just now some one will demand to tear it down so that some 10 story monster can replace it, one with tiny windows, as if heating insulation is a problem for Guyana.  Likely a shopping mall so they can boast that they have elevators. This packed with more heart clogging food outlets.

In 1972 when we had Carifesta many came and admired Georgetown. Clean, beautiful with its uniquely Guyanese heritage reflected in its buildings. 

In 2017 what do they see but an ugly, and congested city.  The only consolation maybe that there aren't rotting bodies as there used to be 3 years ago.  At that time the prospect of a camoodie grabbing and eating a child wouldn't have been a surprise.

caribny posted:
Drugb posted:

I tried to explain to caribj that Guyana's biggest crutch is that it does not have the blue water and white sand beaches.   

Jamaica and the DR are high crime places, worse than Guyana, so that isn't the issue.

e.

As usual you write an entire essay with no facts or study to prove your assertions. You missed the operative words, blue water.   You have no experience in these matters from you limited life experience. You probably never ventured past the lobby of your apartment, yet you know how to run a country and solve all its economic ills. Druggie on the other hand have toured the world and have observed what works and what does not. Mosquito bites, pnc robber man, garbage strewn environment, substandard accommodations and NO blue water is normally the kiss of death for substantial tourism. Those visiting bbados, jamtown and other are not interested in eco tourism, they drink and party hard until the week is over then fly back home to the drudgery of their jobs behind a desk.  

Drugb posted:

I tried to explain to caribj that Guyana's biggest crutch is that it does not have the blue water and white sand beaches.  Only a limited market will exist for eco tourism exclusively. Many people will come for the blue water and do eco tourism as a side activity.  Throw in pnc thiefman robbing and killing tourists and essentially tourism will suffer.  Guyana have been described as a broken country by tourists, with danger of malaria, robbery, garbage, poor infra structure, poor hospitality and political instability. 

Drugb posted:
 

As usual you write an entire essay with no facts or study to prove your assertions. You missed the operative words, blue water. 

As usual you use your low class associates as evidence of the whole gamut of what constitutes the travel market.  Druggie if Anguilla and St Maarten with their dried out selves are offering "rain forest tours" believe you its because they know that not everyone wants to spend their days on the beach, and this is especially true to the more affluent segment of the Millennial generation which is now emerging!

Note the following.  UP FRONT I stated that Guyana will never be a 500k tourist destination as is Barbados.  But Drugged out if Dominica can attract 70k tourists to climb its rapids I suspect that Guyana can do at least as much, but it doesn't.  Only 10% of that number visit Guyana.

I stated that Guyanese have destroyed much of our heritage as well, which reduces out ability to develop a tourist product, and yes I bet your associates have bids to pull down City Hall, St Georges Cathedral and other such buildings so that you can erect some ugly 6 story structure with 2 windows on each floor.  After all "dem is old house"!

Suriname does NOT have blue water and yet it attracts at least 100k eco/adventure tourists annually.  It respects its heritage. It has well developed tourist packages and the infrastructure to deliver at costs which are reasonable.  So any reason why Guyana cannot?

But yes druggie your idea of "progress" are the fast food chains, shopping malls selling cheap Chinese goods, and cineplexes showing some fluff out of Bollywood.  This being all the "development" which occurred during the Jagdeo era.

caribny posted:

As usual you use your low class associates as evidence of the whole gamut of what constitutes the travel market.  Druggie if Anguilla and St Maarten with their dried out selves are offering "rain forest tours" believe you its because they know that not everyone wants to spend their days on the beach, and this is especially true to the more affluent segment of the Millennial generation which is now emerging!

Note the following.  UP FRONT I stated that Guyana will never be a 500k tourist destination as is Barbados.  But Drugged out if Dominica can attract 70k tourists to climb its rapids I suspect that Guyana can do at least as much, but it doesn't.  Only 10% of that number visit Guyana.

I stated that Guyanese have destroyed much of our heritage as well, which reduces out ability to develop a tourist product, and yes I bet your associates have bids to pull down City Hall, St Georges Cathedral and other such buildings so that you can erect some ugly 6 story structure with 2 windows on each floor.  After all "dem is old house"!

Suriname does NOT have blue water and yet it attracts at least 100k eco/adventure tourists annually.  It respects its heritage. It has well developed tourist packages and the infrastructure to deliver at costs which are reasonable.  So any reason why Guyana cannot?

But yes druggie your idea of "progress" are the fast food chains, shopping malls selling cheap Chinese goods, and cineplexes showing some fluff out of Bollywood.  This being all the "development" which occurred during the Jagdeo era.

Nonsense, you don't have any skin in the game and have no clue about tourism. Blue water and beaches are draw, Guyana is missing the 1st and whatever beaches they have is muddy and garbage infested.  Suriname's economy is worse off than Guyana even under jackass Granger.  All the Islands have blue water so haul your backside with these erroneous analysis. 

Drugb posted:
. Those visiting bbados, jamtown and other are not interested in eco tourism, they drink and party hard until the week is over then fly back home to the drudgery of their jobs behind a desk.  

Yes in fact those are more urban destinations, exactly where the criminal element TARGET the tourist. 

In the DR WITHIN hotels criminal activities occur, some perpetuated by the hotel staff.  Yet the DR is the most popular Caribbean destination.  Tourists are robbed right on the PUBLIC beaches right there on all 3 islands.

So crime isn't an excuse.  Guyana doesn't have a packaged tourist product which is priced competitively with countries selling a similar product.

Druggie what does Suriname have that Guyana doesn't?  Why does Suriname, which should be no different from Guyana, given its heritage and demographics impress visitors more than the few who decide to visit Guyana?

THAT is the problem of Guyana.  Not that Guyana cannot develop an eco/adventure sector attracting the 100k visitors that Suriname currently does.

And why does Suriname apparently have less crime than Guyana when its history is more violent. Burnham is a choir boy went put next to Bouterse, and even Jagdeo was a little bit more subtle with his use of para militia thugs.  Guyana did NOT have a civil war equivalent to what Suriname had 20 years ago which resulted in refugees in the tens of thousands.

Yet Guyana has more crime. Why?

You have this inferiority complex when it comes to Guyana. Whatever Suriname can do so can we, and yes Suriname has a tourist industry many times ours even though they are a smaller country!

caribny posted:
Drugb posted:
 

As usual you write an entire essay with no facts or study to prove your assertions. You missed the operative words, blue water. 

As usual you use your low class associates as evidence of the whole gamut of what constitutes the travel market.  Druggie if Anguilla and St Maarten with their dried out selves are offering "rain forest tours" believe you its because they know that not everyone wants to spend their days on the beach, and this is especially true to the more affluent segment of the Millennial generation which is now emerging!

Note the following.  UP FRONT I stated that Guyana will never be a 500k tourist destination as is Barbados.  But Drugged out if Dominica can attract 70k tourists to climb its rapids I suspect that Guyana can do at least as much, but it doesn't.  Only 10% of that number visit Guyana.

I stated that Guyanese have destroyed much of our heritage as well, which reduces out ability to develop a tourist product, and yes I bet your associates have bids to pull down City Hall, St Georges Cathedral and other such buildings so that you can erect some ugly 6 story structure with 2 windows on each floor.  After all "dem is old house"!

Suriname does NOT have blue water and yet it attracts at least 100k eco/adventure tourists annually.  It respects its heritage. It has well developed tourist packages and the infrastructure to deliver at costs which are reasonable.  So any reason why Guyana cannot?

But yes druggie your idea of "progress" are the fast food chains, shopping malls selling cheap Chinese goods, and cineplexes showing some fluff out of Bollywood.  This being all the "development" which occurred during the Jagdeo era.

No black pudding, mauby, and roasted garlic pork cart for you in Guyana. Keep on truckin' in the islands.

Simple solution to the problem of tourism in Guyana -  Set up a Red Light District in New Amsterdam, Berbice and offer incentives to Brazilian Girls to ply their trade in dancing, theatre, and other things. Provide reliable services and spend millions in making the town very attractive with restaurants, hotels, and a fun park.  A regional or international airport in New Amsterdam would bring great economic benefits.  

Don't bitch and moan now that Guyana does not have money to do this.

Billy Ram Balgobin posted:

Simple solution to the problem of tourism in Guyana -  Set up a Red Light District in New Amsterdam, Berbice and offer incentives to Brazilian Girls to ply their trade in dancing, theatre, and other things. Provide reliable services and spend millions in making the town very attractive with restaurants, hotels, and a fun park.  A regional or international airport in New Amsterdam would bring great economic benefits.  

Don't bitch and moan now that Guyana does not have money to do this.

Do you want to push serious crimes from GT to Berbice now? Guyana is known for Choke and Rob and murders. Why would anyone want to spend vacation in a country where e or she can be killed or return home with just buckta or panties?

skeldon_man posted:
 

No black pudding, mauby, and roasted garlic pork cart for you in Guyana. Keep on truckin' in the islands.

Do you really believe that Guyana can attract 600k tourists as Barbados does?  Guyana can have a tourist industry but it will never be a mass market destination, nor should it want to be.

Drugb posted:
caribny posted:

 

Nonsense, you don't have any skin in the game and have no clue about tourism.

So why then did your Jagdeo waste millions of dollars to build an unnecessary hotel?  In fact TWO of them, Marriott and Buddy's, which he subsidized.

I will look at you twisting and turning as you scream that Guyana can never attract tourists yet you rush up to your God, kiss his toes and congratulate him for squandering funds on two unneeded hotels.  G/T does NOT have a shortage of hotel rooms.

Oh yes you can imagine droves of tourists flying over St Maarten to gamble in Guyana, but you cannot imagine that some like eco/adventure tourism which does NOT require blue seas.  I remember your squeals that I was backward for not believing Jagdeo that Guyana could become a major gambling destination after Jagdeo sunk funds into Buddy's.

Druggie people who fly to the Caribbean to gamble, generally spend their days on the beach. Aside from Aruba and maybe San Juan there is no Las Vegas style destination in the Caribbean and Guyana is certainly not one.

Billy Ram Balgobin posted:

offer incentives to Brazilian Girls to ply their trade in dancing, theatre, and other things. .

Why wouldn't people just go straight to Brazil if its Brazilians who are the main attraction?   I just can't imagine New Amsterdam competing with Rio and other large Brazilian cities as a tourist draw.

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