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While countries around the world unilaterally celebrated world Tourism Day on September 27, top Guyanese tourism officials came together in a panel discussion to give an insight into the administration’s long term projections and goals to drive the industry forward.Minister of Tourism Cathy Hughes spoke of the development of the hinterland airstrips while the other panelists, Indranauth Haralsingh, Head of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), and Shaun McGrath,MLB Throwback Jerseys, Head of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) also offered updates on what has been taking place within the industry.Over the past few weeks there have been tenders opened by the National Procurement and Tender Administrative Board (NPTAB) for works to be done on roads and airstrips within the hinterland regions.During the recent commissioning of the Trans Guyana Airways’ (TGA) Raytheon Beechcraft 1900D aircraft, Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson, had also expressed the need for such development, while stating that the 2016 budget would contain further provisions.Making it clear that her Ministry would have to create the environment where the industry could grow,Starlin Castro Cubs Jersey, Tourism Minister Hughes expressed the need for the infrastructure to be put in place. She also gave the commitment that Government would look at the infrastructural side of the industry.“We’re talking about airports and airstrips; proper airstrips in hinterland regions that are well maintained are important,” she said. “We have to ensure that we put the transportation facilities in place, and we have to make sure that we work on the roads and access to locations.”McGrath, who is also the owner of tour company ‘Wilderness Explorers’, described the current state of the tourism industry in Guyana as being ripe for further advancement.“Over the past few years, a lot of things have been happening, more so through the work of the private sector at the national level,” he said. He nonetheless made it clear that there was still a long way to go. He also pointed out what he referred to as a positive development in the local tourism industry – the founding of the GTA.Haralsingh, commenting on his agency’s role in advancing Guyana’s tourism market,Larry Murphy Adidas Jersey, noted that the rebranding process of the local tourism industry, which had dubbed Guyana as “South America undiscovered”, had recently been completed.This was to advance Guyana’s image as the undiscovered gem of South America, he said.“Advancing our sales and distribution network is also critical,” he said. “Because we want more international tour operators and travel agents to proactively sell (Guyana as a destination). We have made headway on that.”He noted that Guyana recently participated in the British bird-watching trade fair. He also spoke of the inaugural American Bird Expo, to take place in October.“As we speak, I have an officer out at Great Falls (Upper Demerara-Berbice), which used to be a good attraction and where Guyana had its first canopy walkway,” he said. According to him, this officer was imparting technical advice in conjunction with the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs and the United Nations Development Bank (UNDB).“We are preparing a hinterland tourism development plan to involve more of the hinterland region,Wilson Ramos Jersey,” he said, noting the importance of the hinterland region which contains most of Guyana’s flora and fauna.He also revealed that there would be a Dutch language training programme for the border settlers at Moleson creek,Tomas Tatar Red Wings Jersey, as well as upcoming housekeeping training exercises which would target the tourism business establishments in Bartica.“At a time when we are struggling with rice, sugar and gold prices,Isa Abdul-Quddus Dolphins Jersey, tourism offers a massive opportunity,” he said.He also lauded the new investment on the Essequibo River, namely the Aruwai Resort on Buck Track Island. This investment was made by miner Chunilall Baboolall.“He invested in something that is more sustainable,” Haralsingh said.Guyana’s tourism sector is valued at approximately US$64M or 8.8% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Its future development, as stated during the 2015 budget, includes enforcing standards and hospitality training, as well as a model tourism hospitality school.Government has also stated that some 1,500 direct new jobs can be created within the sector over the next few years based on the planned measures. They have also stated their intention to double the tourism marketing budget, in a bid to increase the country’s presence in the national/international eye.
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