By Michael Younge
Government came in for heavy criticisms today in relation to its management of the country’s once buoyant and dynamic tourism sector which appears to be on the decline.
Former Tourism and Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali expressed disappointment with the lack of attention and emphasis being placed on developing the right policies and approaches that could truly drive the overall growth and development of Guyana’s various tourism products.
Ali, speaking with INews during an exclusive interview, said that he was taken-back by the lack of vision of those who are managing the industry within the A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU/AFC) Government.
He said that the progress of the sector has been slow over the past three years as he criticized the indifference demonstrated by the Government to a series of stellar initiatives which were all started under the previous Peoples Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) Government which resulted in massive contributions being made to Guyana’s Gross Domestic Product and international image.
“I think that the Ministry has become dormant because of the lack of energy and vision in driving the sector and creating the right approaches that are necessary in order to take the industry forward”, he insisted.
Guyana has, in the past, made significant strides under the former Minister’s stewardship towards the promotion of Sustainable Tourism, and the destination has been recognised for its efforts; Guyana’s Rupununi region had justified the resources poured into its development, as it copped the regional spotlight by winning the 2012 Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award.
The award from the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and Travelmole (CTO/Travelmole) was accepted by Guyana’s Rupununi Learners Inc, for improving the quality of life of the district’s inhabitants.
In 2011, this award was shared by the Surama Eco-Lodge, also located in the North Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo).
This tourist destination was recognised by the CTO for harnessing the economic power of the visitor industry in a responsible and sustainable way. The 2011 award was shared with Barbados’ Harrison’s Cave.
Guyana’s Karanambu Lodge Inc were among the big winners of the TravelMole 2013 sustainable tourism awards handed out by the CTO. The country, for the second consecutive year, emerged as the big winner, copping three of the six prizes presented.
These awards pointed to the hard work and commitment of stakeholders in Guyana and to the policy direction of the then Tourism Ministry and Authority.