Govt commits to crafting strategies to speed up recovery of COVID-hit tourism sector
On the occasion of World Tourism Day 2020, the PPP/C Government said it recognises the devastating impacts the COVID-19 pandemic is having on the sector and has committed to crafting strategies that will accelerate tourism recovery and create the new reset needed.
World Tourism Day was celebrated on Sunday, October 27, 2020, and Tourism and Industry Minister, Oneidge Walrond said that the sector in Guyana and the entire world is in an extremely precarious state.
With airports and borders closed, hotels and resorts suffering reduced visitors, and tour operators reporting vastly reduced business, she noted that many in the industry are struggling to stay afloat.
In this regard, she said that the Ministry joins with the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana and the Guyana Tourism Authority (THAG) in making efforts not only to bring relief to the sector but also to “craft the kinds of strategies that will accelerate tourism recovery and create the new reset needed in the sector.”
According to Minister Walrond, “Tourism of the future cannot and will not be business as usual. The post-COVID traveller will be a person with the highest expectations of enjoying safety in a destination that will provide experiences that are unique, enriching, and original. Guyana must be ready to provide that quality and level of safety. Work is already in train by the various local tourism agencies to prepare the industry for this new role.”
She said that the theme chosen by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) – Tourism and Rural Development – is a theme to be celebrated by Guyana, since it provides space for strong collaborative arrangements involving a number of Governments, donors, and Private Sector agencies.
Meanwhile, THAG said that this year’s international day of observation comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to tourism to drive recovery, including in rural communities where the sector is a leading employer and economic pillar.
It pointed out that tourism in Guyana is one of the leading contributors to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and an industry that has been the hardest hit and greatly impacted due to the loss of revenue and employment.
“Though we recognise that we are not alone, it must be emphasised that the tourism industry employs the largest numbers of women, youth, and those in the informal economy. These persons are the most at risk from the tourism sector and related job losses as well as business closures due to the pandemic,” THAG further said.
According to THAG, most impacted are enterprises supporting women-led, community-led, rural enterprises, start-up businesses and youth. These businesses, it said, support the wider nation and auxiliary sectors.
But we are resilient, our people and our industry will recover from this pandemic.
“Together we must remain steadfast and plan for our recovery and the way forward.”
Rural tourism refers to the tourism that takes tourists to experience “the actual culture” of a rural setting. Rural tourism provides opportunities and employment, preservation of culture and conservation of our ecosystems through sustainable development. Its characteristics include the portrayal of the native arts and heritage in their natural habitat (rural areas), experiencing the local culture through direct involvement with the residents of the villages.
Rural tourism can include one or many of the multiple facets including farm tourism, cultural tourism, adventure tourism, nature tourism, and eco-tourism. Unlike conventional tourism, it does not involve monuments or distinct cultural buildings imparting knowledge about the region.
Meanwhile, the United Nations has revealed that due to the COVID-19 pandemic some 120 million jobs in the tourism sector are at risk. It said that the impacts could lead to the loss of between 1.5 and 2.8 per cent of the global GDP.
The United Nations noted that this will particularly affect the most vulnerable countries, including small island developing states, the least developed countries and many African nations, where tourism can represent between 30 and 80 per cent of exports.