Can Tourism Transform Guyana?
Above: the Pakaraima Mountain Safari in Guyana
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Guyana is making progress on its path to develop a full-fledged tourism sector — and it’s something that can help transform the country’s future, according to Indranauth Haralsingh, director of the Guyana Tourism Authority.
“Even though we are a fledgling stage, we have made a lot of headway as a tourism destination,” he said this week. “Our popularity has been growing, we are known as an eco, nature and adventure tourism destination.”
Guyana received about 175,000 visitors in 2012, a significant increase from the 70,000 to 80,000 it was receiving annually a decade ago.
The country has been pushing its image as an eco-tourism destination, and looking both abroad and to local markets like Suriname and Brazil.
“We are having a lot of visitors from neighbouring Suriname and Brazil, who are coming to Guyana on a daily basis; all of this has helped to increase arrivals,” he said. “We are predicting this year, that we will be 15 percent ahead of last year’s overall arrivals.”
The country did suffer a setback in the winter when Delta Airlines announced that it would end its service to Guyana, citing “poor demand.”
In spite of that, the country has seen an 11.5 percent increase in visitor arrivals so far in 2013, with a new boost to come from additional LIAT service to the Ogle International Airport.
Guyana, while politically and culturally part of the Caribbean, has remained off the beaten path for Caribbean travelers due to its location on the South American continent.
Whether the country’s efforts will continue to work remains to be seen, but the numbers are a good sign. Of course, with an economy projected to grow faster than any other country in the Caribbean, tourism will have time to grow.
“Visitor arrivals is a very good indicator of the health of tourism in Guyana,” he said.