Govt to market “Guyanese Christmas” as unique tourism product

…Guyanese customs, practices are truly unique – PM

The annual Christmas tree light-up at Rahaman’s Park at the mouth of the East Bank Highway was held on Sunday evening, and according to Prime Minister Brigadier Ret’d Mark Phillips, this event not only signifies the ushering in of the upcoming holiday season but a bright future for Guyana as well.
“As we light this tree this evening, it is with great anticipation for the Christmas season and for the future of Guyana… This tree will illuminate the mouth of the East Bank corridor for persons traversing to and from their destination. Tourists and Guyanese returning home will all have a chance to marvel at this tree, and it will be the centrepiece of many photos that will form part of the eternal memories that we seek to make at Christmas time,” he stated.

Prime Minister Brigadier Ret’d Mark Phillips and his wife Mignon Bowen-Phillips, along with Tourism Minister Oneidge Walrond, British High Commissioner Jane Miller, Chargé d’Affaires Adrienne Galanek, ExxonMobil Country Manager for Guyana Alistair Routledge among the gathering at the Christmas tree light-up at Rahaman’s Park on Sunday evening

With an 18-year history, the PM pointed out that the lighting of this tree, which is located at Houston, Greater Georgetown, is one of the most anticipated events during this festive season in Georgetown.
“I always take a moment to marvel at Guyanese traditions and the time we take to ensure that they are kept alive. Guyanese customs and practices are truly unique, and originate from a myriad of cultures that all converge to make a magnificent melting pot of traditions,” he added.

According to Phillips, Guyanese are privileged to share in these moments that enable them to bond and find common ground as a people. He noted that Christmas is not only one of the most anticipated and sacred times for the Christian community in their observance of the birth of Jesus Christ but is also a season of good cheer, love, generosity and thanksgiving.
He outlined that regardless of religion, many Guyanese partake in the custom of decorating their homes with lights and festive colours and decor, cook traditional foods and make Christmas Day a time for merriment and bonding.
While many of these customs are observed worldwide, the Prime Minister contended that “a Guyanese Christmas is unlike that of any other country and our celebration of this holiday begins with momentous observances such as this evening’s tree lighting.”
Nevertheless, as festivities fast approach, Phillips urged persons to remember the true reason for this season – the birth of Christ, who taught the lesson of love, compassion and understanding towards others.
“Through his example, we are guided to live peacefully with others and practice generosity among our fellow men. Christmas brings out the best of us as we partake in gift taking and goodwill. I urge that you continue to give to those in need and be thankful for your own blessings even as you extend blessings to others,” the PM stated.
Moreover, he went on to note that as the end of the year nears, it brings about a time for reflection and there is much to be thankful for as Guyanese. He said Guyana is a blessed country that is on the brink of exponential development and sees new and exciting enhancements that will all add to its holistic growth and expansion.
“We are building a prosperous country and a future for our children and grandchildren, and this is a great opportunity to reflect how far we have come as a country and be thankful even as we continue to build. Our Government is committed to ensuring that this prosperity continues and that all Guyanese can enjoy and partake in a life that is comfortable and bountiful,” the PM stressed.

“Guyanese Christmas” product
Meanwhile, Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Oneidge Walrond in her remarks posited that a major component of the development of Guyana is diversification of its economy, and tourism is expected to play a major role in this approach. She noted that since Government decided to make tourism one of the pillars of the economy, there are lots of activities and initiatives to build the country’s tourism product.
“We are more convinced than ever that the ‘Guyanese Christmas’ is a compelling tourism product especially for diaspora. There is just something unique about Guyana and Christmastime here, and we miss it when we’re abroad. So, we find that there are many visitors coming here… We’re going to be building on this – this is our tourism product and I want us all to buy into it and understand that what we have here is so unique,” the Minister stated.
This includes pepper pot, which the Minister pointed out is like nothing else like it in the world. She added too that the black cake, ginger beer and the foods but more importantly the people are what collectively make the “Guyanese Christmas” ultra-unique.
To further build this as a tourism product, Walrond disclosed that Government intends to replicate the Christmas village initiative that was launched by President Dr Irfaan Ali on Friday evening along the avenue on Main Street, which has been beautifully illuminated and lined with vendors offering a variety of products, across the country.
The Tourism Minister also went on to laud the Rahaman family for their continuous efforts to spread joy and cheer with their annual Christmas tree light-up.
Elan Rahaman said his family has been hosting this event for the past 18 years and they do it not only to usher in the Christmas season but also for the people who turn up to watch the lights being switched on, on the 70-foot structure.
“We enjoy seeing everyone get together from different communities to share a common goal of living as One People and One Nation in Guyana. We love to give away the food, the drinks, the presents and put a smile on everyone’s face to kick off what is one of the most beautiful [holiday] seasons in this country,” he stated. (G8)