At the launch of the Bartica Regatta 2017, the benign nature of the event was eclipsed by Mainstay’s Whyaka Village Toshao Joel Fredericks, who put the government on the spot for failing to adequately invest in the development of the community’s tourism potential.
Both, the indigenous leader and a representative of the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern that enough was not being done to push tourism in Bartica. A direct appeal was made by Fredericks to Social Cohesion Minister Dr. George Norton, who was present.
“It is 17 years since you have Regatta here,” Fredericks said. “And I am a bit saddened to see very little (growth). I believe that the government (if) the government made more input we would have growth, ” Fredericks lamented.
“I am calling on Ministers of the Government to observe and see what is happening. let us see how we can attract more people (and) How we can work together to better this Regatta here at Mainstay. This is an appeal to the Minister of Tourism,” he added.
Delivering an insight in the situation, President of the Essequibo Chamber of Commerce, Deleep Singh, had said that infrastructural development and training in hospitality services are needed to boost the tourism sector in the county.
Chief among the infrastructural changes, the Chamber of Commerce President remarked, was the need for an overhaul of the Goodhope/Supenaam Ferry Stelling. He added that there is also need for infrastructural improvements to the many tourist destinations located in Essequibo.
Singh, a hotel owner and businessman, further highlighted that there is need for much more training for persons living and working in the area on dealing with an influx of tourists and locals to enhance and grow the industry.
In response, Minister Norton promised that an intercession would be made at the level of Cabinet for a renewed focus on Bartica. He noted that infrastructure works, including works on the roads, would form part of the considerations.
The Bartica Regatta is an annual event which features a number of activities including pageants and waterfront races. There are also events such as canoeing, sailing, water polo and swimming. It is considered a tourist attraction, on both a local and foreign front.