I noted in an article a few days ago, concerning the value of the refurbished convention centre to the tourism sector. In the same publication I also observed that visitors’ arrivals this year was almost 285,000. Coincidentally, an acquaintance of mine and many persons verily accuse President Jagdeo of not doing anything for Guyana. Today’s tourism’s performance is all due to the vision of, and the foundation laid by, President Jagdeo.
The market segments identified for tourists were – visiting family and friends, nature, sport, conferences, heritage and yachting
At the time of building the convention centre, 85 per cent of the market for conference tourism was for conferences of 500 delegates or less. The (Caribbean Community) Caricom Secretariat’s location in Guyana was another factor. Another consideration was accommodation.
When I was given the tourism portfolio in June 2001, President Jagdeo tasked that a sector-leading hotel brand be delivered to the tourism sector. With only the Le Meridien (Pegasus), there was need for additional accommodation of international standards. That was the genesis of the Marriott. The Marriott Hotel was never built to shut down anybody, but to complement the existing stock of rooms. The first visit by the Marriott team was in May 1-4, 2006. Exactly three years later, Pegasus was sold to the current owners. Buddy’s coincidentally, started for World Cup 2007. Today, two internationally recognised brands (Marriott and Ramada) are here. The fruits of vision and action two decades earlier.
The improvements at the Convention Centre are upgrades which, yes, will make us access the conference market better and is complemented with sufficient rooms.
Back to the issue of reaping the fruits today after sowing seeds yesterday. The Guyana National Stadium has added immensely to the sport tourism, with Guyana so far being a host of three cricket world cups and constant inclusion in the CPL games. Vision and action laying that solid foundation.
Recognising that modern infrastructure is also a necessity, the Jagdeo Administration embarked on the biggest local Public Private Partnership by making the Ogle Airport available to local operators and facilitating some CAPEX funding. Complimenting is the Timehri Airport expansion project. This, along with the marketing programmes of Government and the tourism stakeholders were recognised by the World Travel and Tourism which assessed Guyana most favourably on its tourism development indices.
The foundation was strong, the journey is long, and credit must be given to the vision and action of the Jagdeo Administration