Following an announcement that Business Minister Dominic Gaskin will now be responsible for the tourism industry and that Public Telecommunications Minister Cathy Hughes will relinquish her responsibility of the tourism sector, the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) has voiced its opinion that this decision was taken without much consideration.
According to reports, the rationale behind this move is based on the need for greater focus on public telecommunications, even after Minister Hughes managed both sectors effectively.
Minister Hughes had amassed a vast knowledge of the telecommunications sector, having graduated from University of the West Indies, with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) degree in Mass Communications in addition to her 20 years of on-field knowledge. She will serve as Tourism Minister until the end of June, as Gaskin will take over effective July 1, 2016.
Hughes also previously served as Director of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana.
THAG has since expressed its disappointment with the change, stating that at the commencement of the new Government’s term in office, the Association welcomed the identification of Hughes as a standalone Tourism Minister. However, the Association stated that over the course of the last 12 months, this portfolio has been drastically diluted to the proposed move being presented.
“If the current Minister of Public Communication, with a strong background in and understanding of the industry, is too busy to address the needs of the industry, how could an equally demanding portfolio of the Minister of Business be able to devote attention to the Tourism Sector?” a release from the Association stated.
The Association posited that it is critical to the industry’s development to have a Minister who has the time to focus on the sector’s development, understands the needs of the industry and auxiliary sectors; such as transportation, agriculture, culture, arts and craft, and with the depth of knowledge of the key stakeholders’ ability to effect change.
The tourism body further stated that 2015 was a productive year for the sector, as the Minister in charge understood the needs and the concerns of the sector and was able to make representation on their behalf, both at the regional and international levels, which very well received. As such, THAG stated that it is hopeful that the decision to have Hughes relinquish responsibility of the sector is given further consideration.
The Association also pointed out that it has noted the commitment to foster sector growth in the Government’s manifesto; however; with two budgets presented in the past, this commitment remains largely undelivered. The body further stated that it is of the opinion that the steps taken by Government in the last year in the administration of the sector are regressive and disadvantageous to tourism development.