The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on Guyana’s tourism sector but with the strategies put in place by Government to cushion the impacts on jobs and revenue, President Irfaan Ali is optimistic that the sector will bounce back.
In his Tourism Awareness Month message, President Ali noted that the theme – “Destination Guyana, Recover and Rebuild – Getting ready to bounce back!”; aptly reflects the challenge presently facing the local industry.
According to the President, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism globally while noting that the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that world tourism declined by 65 per cent in the first half of 2020, resulting in the loss of more than 850 million jobs and as much as US$1.2 trillion in earnings.
He pointed out that Guyana has not been immune to these adverse effects.
“The local tourism sector is believed to have suffered an estimated decline of 46 per cent of its revenues for the first half of this year, with 30 per cent of the sector’s employees losing their jobs and an additional 36 per cent being placed on unpaid leave,” the President stated.
“I am optimistic, however, that our sector is resilient and will rebound from this setback. I am supremely confident that while our market may have been affected, our tourism product remains unblemished by the pandemic and that with the right support, the local tourism sector will recover. My Government is not leaving this recovery to chance. It is actively engaged in employing measures to stimulate the revival of tourism.”
For example, President Ali reminded that in this year’s budget, Government announced the removal of the value-added tax on hinterland travel and the provision of special tax incentives for new hotels and tourism-related businesses.
He noted that Government has signalled its intention to nurture the recovery and revitalisation of the sector. In fact, the President added, “I am upbeat about the industry. Guyana’s tourism sector will rebound. A world-class tourism industry will be established with the support of my Government. Already, we have reopened our international airports under strict COVID-19 prevention and containment protocols.”
In this regard, he noted that a collective effort is needed to safeguard the country’s precious and diverse tourism product. He, therefore, urged Guyanese to play their part as the country navigates this very challenging period.
In closing, President Ali assured that Guyana will beat the pandemic and its tourism sector will emerge stronger and more resilient. He promised that jobs will be restored and Guyana will continue to entice the world with its astounding tourism product.
“Happy Tourism Month, 2020! Continue to keep the environment safe. As we work towards an environment and a world in which climate change can be recognised as a serious threat, all of us as nations and people can do our part in combating climate change.”
Thus far, COVID-19 has taken more than 120 lives in Guyana and over one million globally.