Rupununi Rodeo can be global player in tourism – Pres Ali
…as major tourism investments being undertaken in Region 9
After a two-year hiatus owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rupununi Rodeo has returned to Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and according to President Dr Irfaan Ali, it has the potential to be a major player in not only the regional but international tourism sector.
The Head of State made this declaration at the opening of the event on Saturday, which saw in attendance scores of visitors from all walks of life throughout Guyana as well as from Brazil and Trinidad.
“This event has the power to be a global player in the tourism business. This event has an enormous opportunity to be one of the marquee events in the Caribbean. In my opinion, this event has its own appeal and can stand tall, side-by-side with the best of cricket, the best of racing and we intend to build this event to be the best,” President Ali posited.
However, in order to build such a product to attract tourists to Guyana, the Guyanese leader stressed that investment was needed.
“Making Rupununi and Region Nine a staple in the tourism menu in our country requires investment,” he said.
Against this backdrop, President Ali handed over a cheque of $1 million to the Rodeo Committee and further pledged his Government’s continuous support to the event, physically, financially and in its marketing as well.
Moreover, Dr Ali commended the participants in the various rodeo activities, who he said were not merely entertaining but were doing so for the development of the region.
He noted that his administration was also doing its part by making the Rupununi area easily accessible through the enhancement of the road network leading into the region. In fact, a contract has already been awarded for the rebuilding of all bridges along the Linden-to-Lethem Road to meet international concrete standards.
Additionally, a project is also underway for the paving of the highway from Linden to Mabura Hill, and according to President Ali, Government is exploring the different formulas to have the bridges completed and the road paved all the way into Lethem.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Oneidge Walrond said it was heartening to see the support for the return of rodeo in the Rupununi, noting that many other traditional events across the country were being revived after two years.
She said that the Tourism Ministry has been pursuing a more robust domestic tourism product to have Guyanese exploring the country more.
“The Rupununi Rodeo is one of the core events that bring people together and the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce will continue to offer its support to this and other major initiatives that demonstrate the capacity to attract a large number of visitors to this region,” she stated.
Minister Walrond noted that events such as the Rupununi Rodeo have the potential to not only attract people to Guyana but also to fan out in the various regions across the country.
“[The Rupununi Rodeo] may be the event with the strongest such appeal. We believe that there is a market in the Caribbean region for this event and it is very likely that people would come to Guyana just to experience the Rupununi Rodeo,” Walrond asserted.
To this end, she challenged the Region to improve its capacity to cater to the impending growth of the event. This, she explained, is especially critical since it was difficult to secure rooms and most airlines were fully booked for this weekend’s rodeo.
“The predicted growth should inspire confidence for more people to invest in quality accommodation and service to meet the rapid increase in demand.”
“Lethem and Region Nine possess tremendous potential. We have some genuine products here in their raw form and our Amerindian communities offer an authentic insight into the way of life of the Indigenous communities. However, potential without action and intuition remains just potential. To translate potential to tangible benefits requires deliberate and insightful action,” she stated.
It is for this reason Walrond further pointed out that Government has invested heavily in the development of tourism in Region Nine.
“We have been working to enhance the tourism products in the North, Central and South Rupununi. The Government understands the trickling benefits of tourism to families in these communities and we continue to provide all possible support to move the product forward,” she posited.
The return of rodeo to Region Nine was made possible by Lethem’s Mayor, John Macedo, who led its coordination shortly after the Government lifted most of the COVID-19 restrictions one month ago on March 14.
President Ali was joined by First Lady Arya Ali and several Cabinet Ministers as well as regional and Government officials in Rupununi on Saturday for the opening of the rodeo.
Among the activities he witnessed was the commissioning of the Visit Rupununi Guyana Tourism Information Centre in Lethem.
During his remarks there, the Head of State highlighted the importance of human resources in community-based tourism.
“For tourism to work, the people must understand what tourism means. We must live tourism and be the best we can to each other, the environment and, more importantly, the country,” he said.
President Ali also noted that part of the region’s tourism package must be a partnership with neighbouring Brazil.
“We must build a common profit with our neighbours. Once we are able to merge these two products and cooperate, we will have one of the most powerful tourism products anywhere in the world,” he added.