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DRAFT May 31, 1996

I. Basic Features of the Sector
A. Guyana's Current Tourism Product
B. Pertinent Characteristics of Visitor Travel to Guyana
C. The Opportunity

II. Policies of the Sector
A. Tourism Policies From 1989 to 1992
B. Current Policies

III. Description of Principal Issues and Constraints Facing the Sector
A. Issues
B. Constraints

IV. Objectives

V. Policy Recommendations and their Technical Justifications
A. Ministerial Responsibility
B. Need for a National Tourism Board
C. The Role of the Tourism Association of Guyana
D. Protected Areas
E. Amerindian Involvement in Tourism
F. Investment
G. Air Transport
H. Product Improvement
I. Marketing Guyana as an Eco-tourism Destination
J. Joint Destination Tourism
K. Regular Bulletin on the Industry
L. Regulations and Standards within the Industry
M. Tour Guides
N. The Wildlife Trade
O. Georgetown
P. Continuity of Work in the Sector
Q. Public Health

VI. Legislative Requirements(4)
A. Establishing the Tourism Board
B. Government Regulations
C. Services to Tourism
D. Zoning
E. Building Codes and Tourism Facilities
F. National Parks
G. Protection of Wildlife and Fisheries
H. The Environmental Protection Act

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I. Basic Features of the Sector

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A. Guyana's Current Tourism Product

Tourism takes diverse forms, each with appeal to a particular class of tourist and with its own implications for the country's infrastructure and revenue earnings from tourism. Guyana is ideally placed to take advantage of eco-tourism, which is currently the fastest growing segment of the tourism industry. The potential of eco-tourism today parallels the potential of the "sun, sea and sand" locations in the Caribbean when that tourism market was emerging forty years ago. However, eco-tourism is an entirely different industry and Guyana is uniquely placed to take full advantage of it because of two basic comparative advantages. First, the diversity of Guyana's flora and fauna, the virgin rainforests and the vast array of waterfalls, rivers and creeks are unique factors that set Guyana apart from her Caribbean neighbors who rely heavily on tourism. These are in a virtually pristine state on a scale that is rare in today's world. The second advantage is the fact that Guyana is the only English- speaking country in the South American Amazon Basin. This advantage cannot be underestimated in terms of its appeal to markets such as Europe, the United States and Canada, which are the main markets connected with eco-tourism.

However, eco-tourism development must be pursued in with extreme care and consideration for the natural environment. This is the eco-tourism dilemma, to find a balance between exploiting a natural site for eco-tourism activities without destroying the very location that the activity depends on. Any eco-tourism venture undertaken has to take this into account.

Current eco-tourism operations in Guyana are listed in Appendix 1, which summarises all of Guyana's current tourism offerings, based on information supplied by the Tourism Association of Guyana (TAG).

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B. Pertinent Characteristics of Visitor Travel to Guyana

The recently conducted Visitor Survey of Guyana by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation in cooperation with the Guyana Statistical Bureau and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry provides many insights into the basic features of the sector.(1) The survey shows that the main distinguishing feature of the Guyana visitor profile is a relatively high proportion of business visitors and persons visiting friends and relatives. The peak season for Northern visitors to Guyana is in the winter months (see Appendix 2). Most other characteristics of visitor traffic reflect these basic facts.

Of the total of 112,751 non-Guyanese who visited in 1994, it is estimated that the overwhelming majority are Guyanese who have acquired other nationality, returning to visit family; business persons; international volunteers and members of NGOs; and visitors on official business. It is estimated that of the arriving foreigners no more than 2,000 come primarily for tourism, as the term is commonly understood. These persons would spend, on average, the equivalent of a few hundred US dollars per stay, certainly less than US$1,000. Therefore, in very approximate terms, it may be calculated that the sector at present generates between 1 and 2 million US dollars per year in foreign exchange earnings. However, the potential would be considerably more than that with a systematic effort to improve the country's infrastructure and develop an appropriate tourism programme.

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C. The Opportunity

Some pertinent facts about tourism that demonstrate its potential impact are:

The overall benefit of tourism is that most of the steps which a developing country needs to take in order to improve its standard of living are exactly those which are required to develop tourism within a country. Some of the benefits of tourism are:

1) a larger tax base for national development

2) the generation of foreign exchange

3) the provision of national employment

4) the promotion of rural and interior development

5) human resources development

Tourism is not simply an attempt to save the environment; it is also an important opportunity for Guyana's economic development. Properly managed, it is a non-depleting, non-consumptive industry that provides ever-increasing economic benefits in a sustainable manner.

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II. Policies of the Sector

There is little evidence to suggest that a tourism policy existed prior to the 1990s, either implicitly or explicitly. Several factors may have been responsible for this. First, the Government may have felt that Guyana does not possess what it takes to be a tourist destination. Second, the apprehension that impacts associated with tourism would exacerbate social problems discouraged the development of tourism. However, in recent years the emergence of eco-tourism as an alternative to resort-based mass tourism has generated an awareness of Guyana's potential for a more beneficial, less intrusive type of activity.

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A. Tourism Policies From 1989 to 1992

In 1989 a study funded by the European Community (EC)(2) formulated a policy framework for the sector. The study recognised the importance of tourism in the generation of employment and the creation of income. A number of recommendations were made, including:

The maintenance of effective consultation with all sectors of the tourism industry to create a harmonious relationship between the public and private sectors.

2. The provision of fiscal and other incentives to attract foreign investment and entrepreneurial skills to accelerate new development and to obtain a critical mass" in the range of accommodation and attractions.

3. The identification and removal of obstacles and deterrents to new investment and the expansion of existing businesses with tourism potential.

4. The improvement of both internal and international airline connections to foster tourism.

5. The protection of the natural beauty of the country through legislative and other Government measures.

These recommendations were accepted and ratified by the Government, but most have not been translated into practice. Most of the recommendations remain applicable today.

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B. Current Policies

While a written tourism policy does not exist, certain policy decisions have been instituted to give guidance to the tourism industry. These are as follows:

Removal of the visa requirement for the major tourist generating markets, in Japan, North America, Western Europe and Scandinavian and Commonwealth countries, as of 1993.

2. The introduction of a 10 percent room tax on all establishments with a capacity of fifteen (15) or more rooms. However, the funds raised from this tax are not channeled back into the industry.

3. A tourism incentive package that granted duty free concessions to a number of items was prepared for the sector in 1995. Investors have expressed total frustration at the bureaucratic bottlenecks in accessing these concessions. These concessions in their present form do not offer any meaningful incentives to the industry.

4. The Government's decision to commission the Organisation of American States (OAS) to develop an Integrated National Eco-Tourism Development Plan, of which a Management Plan for Kaieteur National Park is a component.

5. The promotion of 1996 as "Visit Guyana Year" with the aim of attracting 250,000 visitors to Guyana; this effort has been perceived by the industry as poorly conceived and premature, with no input from the private sector.

At the same time, Government has strengthened the Tourism Division of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry. There have been attempts at enhancing the image of the Timehri International Airport and sensitising Immigration and Customs Officers to their new obligations in a tourist destination. Efforts are being made to educate the general population about the new tourism initiatives through the media and other initiatives such as the 1996 Tourism and Environmental Exposition.

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III. Description of Principal Issues and Constraints Facing the Sector

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A. Issues

1. Clear Definition of Tourism Products in Guyana

Before any real and meaningful development of tourism in Guyana can take place it is necessary to have an understanding of the type of tourism products that are both suited to and suitable for Guyana. Efforts to develop these products and Guyana's image as a destination must be done in accordance with what Guyana determines to be its needs. This requires a precise definition of the types of tourism that are compatible not only with the product that Guyana has to offer, but also with what the country hopes to achieve from tourism development. It is also necessary to examine aspects of tourism which are undesirable for this country.

a. Forms of tourism suited to Guyana's natural product and development goals

The main tourism markets that are considered to be suitable or potentially suited to Guyana are:

Eco-tourism: Eco-tourism is a natural choice for Guyana for several reasons. First, Guyana's vast and pristine rainforest and savannahs, the abundant wildlife and spectacular natural attractions make Guyana a prime destination for eco-tourists. They are now looking for new, relatively untouched environments, and Guyana stands in a good position to take advantage of this as long as sustainable development techniques are used. Another signal advantage that Guyana has over many of its competitors in the region is that, as mentioned, it is the only English-speaking part of the Amazon Basin.

Eco-tourism is itself advantageous to Guyana because it endeavors to respect the natural environment and different cultures. It is a type of tourism which concentrates on small numbers of tourists paying relatively high prices, thus maximising the economic benefits to the country (which is after all the major reason for tourism development) while minimising the negative effects on the environment and society which are generally associated with traditional or mass tourism. Eco-tourism itself is a very broad classification and ranges from "soft" eco-tourism, which can include luxury accommodations, to "hard" eco-tourism, which focuses more on the surroundings in its natural form and less on personal comfort. To develop eco-tourism, more lodges are needed around the country in key locations, along with better transport and improvements in public health. In particular, it is essential to reduce drastically the incidence of malaria in the interior. A system of national parks and protected areas also needs to be established, preferably around these key attractions.

A basic element of eco-tourism is information and education. Most eco-tourists want to learn more about the environment, both physical and human, that they are visiting. On an international level this requires that adequate information be readily available and accessible to the potential visitor through literature (promotional and information-based) as well as through existing and emerging technologies such as the Internet and CD-ROM. On a local level, the transmission of information necessitates highly trained tourist guides who can communicate and interpret nature in a way that is entertaining and educational. The eco-tourist is typically a well educated, well traveled, professional (generally over 35-40 years old) with a high income and keen environmental, social and political awareness. He or she has probably traveled to several island destinations over the past 10 years and is now tired of the same routine. Eco-tourists are looking for new ways to escape the winter and big city pressures. At the same time, such persons easily see through operations that do not respect the environment or indigenous populations. If Guyana is serious about eco-tourism it needs to embrace overarching environmental policies and ethics, so as not to be perceived as a "fake".

Adventure tourism: Adventure tourism is another growing segment of the tourism sector and can also be divided into "hard" and "soft" categories. It is a sub-sector of eco-tourism. The safety of tourists undertaking this, as indeed all forms of tourism, is of paramount importance since negative publicity or perceptions in this area can have a negative effect on Guyana as a tourism destination in general. It is necessary to ensure that all operators work to high standards of safety and that there is adequate provision for emergency evacuation and medical facilities. The absence of national medical and emergency evacuation facilities is a major hurdle that must be overcome. Tour operators must also be encouraged to have and use appropriate equipment for the various adventure elements of a tour.

Multi-destination tourism: This is a growing segment of the tourism industry, as more and more holiday makers are traveling further distances on vacation and visiting two to more countries. Given Guyana's distance from its main markets of Europe and America and its proximity to the Caribbean, joint destination packages make sense for Guyana, especially in the short term as Guyana builds and expands the products it offers. While eco-tourism is a natural tourism choice in itself for many people, the traditional form of "sun, sea and sand" tourism is still a major attraction for most tourists. Guyana has a unique product which is not widely available in the other Caribbean islands. Good flight connections to Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada and Curacao make these destinations good partners with which to team up to market a joint destination package.

Cruise ship tourism: There is a lot of controversy regarding cruise ship tourism in the Caribbean, and there is a school of thought in Guyana which maintains that cruise ship tourism on a large scale is not compatible with eco-tourism or in the interests of Guyana. This kind of tourism does not increase hotel occupancy rates and therefore much of the tourist expenditure is not spent in the destination country. Potentially large numbers of day tourists can bring detrimental influences to the country, such increases in pollution, crime, drug trade and prostitution. In general, cruise ship tourism requires excellent shopping facilities, including duty free shops, speedy customs and immigration clearance, effective security and short, well co-coordinated tours. This type of tourism can bring revenue into the country in the form of a government head tax and tourist expenditure on craft and other consumer items. However, tourist expenditure is often minimal in comparison to the costs. There is a rough estimate that average revenue obtained by Caribbean countries from cruise ship tourism is about US $ 5 per head. There is also no head-tax at present on cruise ship tourists to Guyana.

Cruise ship tourism should not be ruled out, but it should be carefully monitored and controlled to ensure that the detrimental effects of mass tourism do not occur. Cruise ship tourists that are here specifically as eco-tourists should be encouraged; there are such cruise ship tourists that visit South America. It is important to note, though, that cruise ship tourism of the wrong kind can destroy the very thing that Guyana is trying to sell.

The business market: A large captive tourism market associated with the business travel already exists. This market can generally be divided into three categories: short-term, long-term and conference travel. The long-term business traveler generally works in or around Georgetown during the week and has the weekend available for travel. The short-term business traveler generally has less time in the country and a less predictable time schedule. However, the country can only handle a small number of business visitors. To cater to large markets, much more infrastructure is needed; service has to be fast and efficient, with all necessary business and communication facilities available.

Heritage/cultural tourism: There is room for the promotion of Guyana's historical sites for their historical and architectural value. Sites suitable for this type of tourism include Georgetown, Fort Island, Magdelenburg and Kyk-Over-Al. Amerindian culture is of potential interest to tourists. However, at the same time it is important to protect these communities from the negative impact which tourism can have on their traditional ways of life.

There are other types of tourism that are possible, such as industrial and agricultural tourism, which show potential. Tourists have expressed interest in visiting mining and forestry operations and facilities for rum and sugar production. In the case of the first two, these can be tourist attractions only if carried out under strict environmental controls.

While it is hardly likely that many tourists will travel to Guyana specifically to see Georgetown, the beauty of the capital city should not be underestimated in encouraging a tourist in Guyana to stay an extra night. This would have a positive spinoff for restaurants, taxi drivers, craft shops and other local businesses. Measures need to be taken to promote cultural offerings such as art exhibitions and presentations of traditional dance, and to preserve the traditional charm of the city, especially its rich architecture. The spate of concrete buildings being constructed where old Victorian style buildings once existed can only be viewed negatively.

b. Types of tourism not desirable for Guyana

Among the tourism products that are undesirable for development in Guyana are casino gambling and sex tourism, as well as hunting expeditions. Various agencies, such as TAG, have reported an increase in requests for hunting recreation but this contradicts the ethos of eco-tourism. The present hunting legislation lays down quotas, lists of protected species and hunting seasons that are questionable. In general, the wildlife trade seriously discredits eco-tourism efforts. In addition, due to Guyana's geography, demographics and human resource constraints, monitoring and enforcement of hunting regulations would be extremely problematic.

2. Eco-tourism

Because of its importance to Guyana eco-tourism deserves special attention. Eco-tourism cannot be simply classified as nature or adventure tourism. It usually denotes a particular type of tourism that is small in scale and in which local control and local benefits are of primary importance. As it is often closely linked to natural environments and habitats, it necessitates an understanding of the principles of environmental protection and sustainable development. One of the most widely accepted definitions of sustainable development is advanced in the Brundtland Report of 1987 which sees it as development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

The idea of sustainable tourism is linked to the notions of renewable and non-renewable resources, resource conservation and carrying capacity (i.e. the amount of human presence, both long and short term, that specific natural environments and eco-systems can sustain without significant deterioration). It is a dynamic and evolving concept of partnership between humanity and nature and requires the strict management of each resource - land, air, water and wildlife - to ensure optimum value and continuity of supply. There is a convergence between long-term business interests and sustainable development that can be achieved without "cutting corners." At the same time, however, there are a number of socio-cultural, economic and environmental issues that impinge on eco-tourism and on the extent to which it is developed.

It should not be assumed that eco-tourism is a type of tourism in which tourists expect less than other forms of tourism. At the end of the vacation, they expect the same sense of satisfaction and leisure as they would find in other destinations; therefore, eco-tourism has to have fun elements built into it. Visitors must have rewarding and interesting things to do, and it is the responsibility of operators to provide these elements.

a. Lessons from other countries

In planning for eco-tourism, it is useful to learn from the leaders in this new industry, such as Costa Rica and Belize. Costa Rica and Belize have progressed well ahead of Guyana in eco-tourism and "rainforest travelism", and they have some significant advantages over Guyana. In the first place, they both have valuable sea and sand assets; Costa Rica has beaches on both its Atlantic and Pacific sides and Belize has, beside beaches, some of the world's best scuba diving.

Both these countries are closer to the North American markets than Guyana. This not only means cheaper and more frequent flights, but also more primary target cities from which direct flights depart, providing better marketing prospects. Guyana only has direct flight access to Miami, New York and Toronto in North America, and the frequency and quality of air service is well below optimal. Costa Rica (19,000 square miles) and Belize (8,000 square miles), though smaller in size and more advanced in development, also have more accessible interiors with cheaper transportation than Guyana has, with its 83,000 square miles. The consequence of these international and national transportation advantages is that many more potential customers can, conveniently and less expensively, leave home and arrive at a chosen eco-lodge in Costa Rica or Belize without losing an entire precious day of their vacation. It would take two days to get to Guyana from many of their target cities.

In addition to these broad advantages, those two countries have other miscellaneous advantages of varying importance and permanence. They have substantial archeological ruins to visit, active and inactive volcanoes, white water rafting, butterfly farms and well developed nature trails. They are also better able to handle medical emergencies. Costa Rica has long been a preferred retirement country for North Americans, and it has a very positive image compared to Guyana's "Jonestown" reputation. Both countries have established strong and supportive connections with prominent international environmental organisations. Their governments have also invested substantial sums of money into developing and promoting the tourism industry.

One of the most important lessons that can be learnt from the majority of tourism destinations in the Caribbean is the detrimental effects of mass tourism. Islands such as Jamaica, Barbados, and Antigua have regretted their attempts to attract large numbers of discount-rate tourists, who provide a much narrower margin of profitability and add pressure to the local infrastructure. The potential of eco-tourism is closely related to the carrying capacity of the land. Guyana needs to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that the more tourists that visit, the better it is for the industry and the economy. Emphasis should be placed on obtaining the maximum benefits from a minimum number of visitors. Elements of mass tourism that have crept into the industries of Belize and Costa Rica are damaging the very product that they are trying to sell. It is important to note that promotions such as price-cutting have the effect of attracting too many tourists and creating the perception of low quality. Policies therefore need to be adopted that orient the industry away from mass tourism.

Another important lesson to be learned is that the value of a country's offerings increases with time. In a generation or two, the worth of Guyana's natural attractions will multiply several times as such sites become fewer in the world and more people seek relief from choked up developed cities. This has been the experience of Belize and Costa Rica where people are willing to pay increasingly more for the opportunity to visit their attractions. In retrospect, it has also been the experience of Caribbean island destinations; few of these islands would have thought 40-50 years ago that their beaches would be worth what they are today.

b. Guyana's advantages

Guyana therefore needs to examine what it has to offer that is special in order to make it a competitive eco-tourism destination. Kaieteur is a terrific asset that should be used intelligently to maximise its value in developing this new industry. With the international language of English spoken by Guyanese, including Amerindians, the country has another major selling point.

But most of all, the singular advantage that Guyana has is that it possesses vast areas of interior that are still pristine compared to Costa Rica and Belize, and most of Panama, Venezuela and Brazil. Further, Guyana's virtually untouched forests are so diverse that they can show the entire spectrum of tropical rainforest at its best. Where most of Guyana's competitors have comparatively small pockets of rainforest, most of which have farms and rural developments nearby, Guyana has vast rainforests and savannahs with many beautiful waterfalls and very diverse flora and fauna that still are relatively intact. It is vital and intrinsic to the development of tourism to protect the integrity of Guyana's natural environment as a major selling point.

The beauty of the country's ninety miles of Shell Beach and Mangrove Swamp is unique. The four species of sea turtles laying eggs, the bird life, the tropical swamp life, the raw, wild flavor of this coast has to be experienced to be fully appreciated. The expansive southern savannahs are another entirely different tropical ecosystem; there, instead of sea turtles Guyana has unique river turtles. There is bird life such as the Harpy Eagle where the forested mountains meet the savannahs; to a bird enthusiast the Harpy alone provides more reason to visit Guyana than Kaieteur Falls itself. The petroglyphs (some of which are estimated to be over 6,000 years old), are indications of ancient civilisations. The cultural diversity and friendliness of the Guyanese people are also major advantages.

3. Protected Areas

The establishment of designated protected areas for Guyana is important for distinguishing between those areas to be protected and those to be utilised for extractive industries. Guyana is the only country in South America without a protected areas system. This is a major handicap for a country that is aiming to develop eco-tourism. To correct this situation, the Government has commissioned a team of scientists to prepare a project for a National Protected Areas System (NPAS) in Guyana. The NPAS project is being supported by the Global Environment Facility of the World Bank. Preparatory stages of the project involve collaborative efforts with Conservation International and the Smithsonian Institute. Additional work on protected areas is being conducted through the Amazon Co-operation Treaty (ACT), under which one project examines options for compatible economic development of the Amazon, through possible eco-tourism ventures. From the perspective of protected areas, eco-tourism may symbolise a new and promising way of protecting fragile ecosystems by enhancing their economic value in a sustainable manner.

The Iwokrama Rainforest Programme also offers potential for combining protected areas with tourism and this should be fully explored. The use of 360,000 hectares of virgin rainforest presents an opportunity for the development of eco-tourism and international cooperation based on the principles and practices of sustainable development. In fact, the Iwokrama project has already embarked on an undertaking that would train tourists on various aspects of the forests and surrounding ecosystems. It is expected that future protected areas would also allow for some form of eco-tourism including the education of tourists. Given the high educational element involved in eco-tourism, more international environmental agencies as well as scientific and medical research organisations could be vigorously encouraged to set up operations in protected areas that welcome visitors and study groups. This has been done successfully in many eco-tourism destinations. The Audubon project on Shell Beach is an example of such a combination of environmental research and protection operations, which should be actively sought by the Government as a definitive component of its tourism policy.

Linking tourism to conservation in National Parks requires that the economic gain by investors be coupled with at least two additional goals, benefitting the Amerindians. First, a tourism/conservation programme, as planned for the Kanuku Mountain range or the Kaieteur National park, etc., ideally should extend the economic benefits of development to a broad base of the local human population through employment, compensation fees, or the development of social services. This was the approach taken in Kenya's Amboseli National Park, where it was demonstrated that local people were likely to protect lands and wildlife when they had an economic incentive to do so. The same would apply to the Makushi people who live at the foot of the Kanukus.

Second, tourism in these protected areas should be supported not only by research on the human impact of tourists on the ecosystem, but also by the creation of some mechanism that would allow visitors to contribute to the park following their visit. Excited by their experience, they may want to help, either through direct contributions to a conservation group working in the locality of their visit or though word-of-mouth advertising of the facility.

Private protected areas should also be encouraged. These areas need not be large; there are some in Costa Rica that are just 5,000 acres in size, although the weight of scientific evidence is increasingly in favor of larger areas.

4. Kaieteur National Park

Since Kaieteur Falls is the main tourist attraction in Guyana, its potential demands that it be given special attention in the development of the tourism industry. There is no doubt that the Kaieteur Falls and the surrounding Kaieteur Park constitute such a compelling attraction on a world scale that they could be Guyana's beachhead into the international tourism market.

Yet, Kaieteur, far from being world renowned, is scarcely known at all beyond a small circle of Guyanese and friends of Guyana, and a combination of circumstances has already put it in danger of being spoiled. Although only a few visitors go there, those few, wandering about at will on very fragile soils and in a fragile environment, are sufficient in present circumstances to pose a threat to the viability of the site and to its unique biosphere. Unregulated mining in the Potaro River watershed and the Kaieteur Gorge also poses a threat to the scenic beauty and ecosystem of the area. Thus, with Kaieteur Guyana has the worst of both worlds; it is not the major tourist destination it should be, yielding the great returns it is capable of but at the same time it is already an endangered site. Monitoring and management to protect it against unregulated visitation and illegal activities such as mining are urgently needed if its integrity as a protected area, and indeed Guyana's integrity as an eco-tourism destination, are to be kept intact.

An escape from this unfortunate situation will be found through well-managed tourism as a means of rationally exploiting and at the same time preserving this great natural resource. Tourist visitation to Kaieteur could increase significantly and entail less damage than is currently being done to the site. The key is the proper design and management of visitation. For example, by having sight-seeing visitors follow prescribed boardwalk trails, and by allowing others with more serious interests in exploring the area to move around only with skilled and licenced guides, many more people could enjoy the Kaieteur experience, and they could enjoy it vastly more, than at present. Managed visitation to Kaieteur would bring in the revenue required for financial sustainability of the site and would generate surpluses for general conservation and development purposes.

Fortunately, Government has commissioned a project funded by the Organisation of American States to develop a master plan for the Kaieteur National Park. When complete, this plan will give details for the layout of the site, guidelines for construction on the site and rules for the limits of acceptable change. This plan would be an integral component of the broader Eco-tourism Development Plan mentioned above.

5. Amerindian Involvement in Tourism Development

Tourism is an economic imperative for Guyana that is likely to benefit Amerindians if properly pursued. It presents Amerindians with an opportunity to build an indigenous industry which is labour intensive and benefits the local communities.

For a start, English-speaking tourists, who make up the majority of visitors to Guyana, will find it easy to communicate with indigenous peoples in the interior. What could follow from this simple advantage is a best case scenario for the involvement of Guyanese Amerindians in eco-tourism ventures. Guyanese Amerindians are unsurpassed by any other ethnic group in Guyana when it comes to knowledge of the interior and can be trained to deliver that knowledge in a systematic way to tourists. This will contribute to a high quality experience, resulting in positive word-of-mouth advertising, which should lead to an increase in eco-tourist numbers.

The case of exploitation of wildlife is a good example of how an extractive industry could be turned into a sustainable economic venture for Amerindians. The trade does not earn a lot for the trapper, who gets a fraction of the exporter's profits and generally engages in trapping as a monetary supplement to subsistence practices. Jungle wildlife viewing, in contrast, could involve the same trapper, moving from marketing a consumptive, probably unsustainable activity to a non-consumptive, sustainable use for photo or adventure tours. Amerindian bird trappers could convert to guides if the option were available and if it proved to be a better financial deal for them.

When established, the National Protected Areas System could involve Amerindians in its eco-tourism activities. Amerindians could be trained as park rangers and guides, since they have an unrivaled knowledge of the local terrain and its natural resources. Further, they are more likely to remain in these areas in the long-term than the average coastlander candidate filling such positions.

The impact of such measures on Amerindian communities can be significant because the industry is labour-intensive and can provide jobs for large numbers of unskilled workers. The industry can also stimulate local economies through increased local demands for transportation, lodging, food, materials and nature interpretation. Thus, even a relatively small share of tourism revenues can provide an extremely strong boost to the local economy. New job opportunities would stem the flow from villages to the coast, Brazil and Venezuela. There is great potential income for women and other less mobile Amerindians from the sale of handicraft to tourists, promoted by demonstrations and explanations of the craft processes.

On the other hand, jobs linked to eco-tourism could be seasonal and subject to world economic conditions. While eco-tourism is meant to be small in scale, it has the potential to make local communities too dependent upon it. These communities are likely to suffer much more from a decline in the tourism sector than the country as a whole would. For small communities that depend upon agriculture and other primary activities, eco-tourism has the potential to draw labour out of those sectors. For example, in indigenous communities, the craft industry may thrive at the expense of food production.

The influence of foreign cultures may also impact upon communities in such a way that many traditional values may be lost. Some theorists feel that commercialisation of culture can lead to pseudo-culture, folklore specially devised for tourists, alteration of traditional crafts due to commercial pressures, and the replacement of traditional handicrafts by cheap souvenirs.

Before tourism can benefit Amerindians, therefore, there must be fundamental institutional strengthening. This requires a participatory approach that must be applied through direct discussion, education and practical training programmes. Amerindian groups should be empowered to start their own tourist ventures in a small and manageable way. These can grow as experience is gained.

6. Marketing

Guyana starts off as a difficult sell in the world of tourism. While it has no image in the world travel market, it also has to cope with the negative image of Jonestown and the perception of being a poor, fragile democracy. Compare this reputation to that of a West Indian island like Jamaica, with a history of greater political turmoil and violence, gun-crime and drugs; yet Jamaica, "where the nights are gay and the sun shines daily on the mountain top," benefits from helpful romantic images in the international market place. Guyana is even sometimes confused in name with Ghana in Africa, so one has to be sure that visitors do not get on the wrong plane, going to the wrong continent. Top priorities will have to be filling the gap in knowledge that exists in the world about Guyana and working to erase the current negative images.

Tourism is an export product, but unlike other exports of Guyana, tourism is intangible. To sell tourism is to sell a dream or fantasy, and such a product cannot be weighed or put into a box. The customer buying the tourism product cannot sample it before buying, nor can he or she take it home after purchase. Tourism is a singular and highly personal experience that is slightly different for every visitor. Factors that contribute to a sense of satisfaction with a tourism experience are many, but chief among them are physical beauty (the environment wildlife, etc.), cultural experiences (authenticity of life, historical locations, etc), and a friendly, helpful population.

In marketing tourism it is also important to examine what the overseas market wants. At present, visitors to Guyana can be grouped into the following categories:

  • business people and official visitors with a few days to spare

  • expatriate Guyanese returning on holiday or business

  • expatriate workers based in Guyana

  • tourists coming over for a few days as part of a multi-destination holiday

  • tourists coming currently to Guyana for eco-tourism holidays

    The first two categories plus international volunteers currently make up the vast majority of all visitors to Guyana, in fact over 95 percent of the total number. The total number of visitors to Guyana, a little more than 100,000 annually, is small compared to other tourist destinations, but the potential for growth and resulting foreign exchange is large. Guyana could market itself as part of multi-destination packages, but this requires cooperation with operators from other countries and detailed planning, especially in the coordination of flights, so it may be best left to a later stage in the sector's development.

    Guyana needs to realize that marketing is a business and cannot be accomplished though embassies, a past common error among those trying to promote emerging tourism. A visitor looking for a tourist destination spot will not visit every nearby embassy or consulate and, in any case, Guyana does not have embassies and consulates in all of the major target cities. Professional representation in the markets that Guyana wishes to attract is vital. In marketing Guyana's tourism product, planners have to be prepared to spend money. Successful marketing is done through advertising and being sure that Guyana is listed in all travel guides and books. Government also needs to appreciate that tourism is an export industry and should therefore be eligible for benefits normally afforded to other export sectors.

    7. Expansion and Improvement of the Product Offered

    A sudden shortage of fuel for internal aviation, which still occurs, means that a visitor's planned itinerary is ruined. Unregulated or badly managed access to prime sites like Kaieteur - or a failure to stop environmental degradation arising from mining in the wrong places - will destroy the assets on which the growth of tourism depends. Inadequately or inappropriately developed lodging facilities and attractions will send visitors home disappointed, never to recommend Guyana to their friends. Insufficient attention to the total quality of the experience that the market wants, from the moment of arrival to the moment of departure, will spoil the potential of Guyana.

    It is obvious that there are a number of aspects of tourism that must be in place at the same time to make a successful industry. A failure of any one of the various requirements for the industry will mean the failure of the entire industry. If Guyana is going to be serious about tourism, then all aspects must be working properly at the same time.

    Product improvement should be centered on the following areas:

  • General information: At present it is extremely difficult for the would-be visitor to Guyana to find any reasonable country information in existing literature and guide books. There is a total lack of generic advertising of the country.

  • Easier access to Guyana and its interior: There are only a few airlines that serve Guyana and these only go to limited destinations. For example, in North America direct flights can only be made to Miami, New York and Toronto. In Europe, only London, Frankfurt, Zurich and Amsterdam are served through Trinidad or Barbados. Attention needs to be paid to upgrading facilities at Timehri so as to attract American and European airlines (see Chapter 38 of the National Development Strategy). The process for obtaining flight rights should be streamlined, so that the industry could work more with airlines to develop new markets.

    The current Guyana Airways Corporation (GAC) service to the interior is totally inadequate to satisfy the needs of Guyanese, let alone tourism. For example, many tour operators report being unable to obtain seats on GAC flights to Lethem, even though TAG holds six seats up to eleven days before flights. The number of locations served by GAC and the frequency of flights are not adequate for the development of the industry. And yet Government regulations restrict the number of commercial seats available on domestic flights. Coordinated efforts between private operators and GAC are required to ameliorate these problems, as well as a change in the regulatory framework (Chapter 38).

    Because of the limited road infrastructure the only access to many of Guyana's remote areas suitable for tourism is via light aircraft. There is a shortage of such aircraft to meet the current and future needs of tourism in Guyana. In addition the costs associated with this kind of transportation are high and add to the overall price of Guyana's tourist product. The current high taxes that the private sector pays on aviation fuel, spare parts and aircraft (from which GAC is exempted) add to the cost of this type of transport. There is no level playing field between private airline operations and the Government-owned GAC. There is insufficient free competition in the market to properly develop the airline industry locally. This makes tourism in Guyana uncompetitive with other destinations with better infrastructure and better access to main tourism sites.

  • Improved Infrastructure: Of all the productive sectors of the economy, tourism is the one that depends most on the physical environment and other ambient conditions that exist in the country. Infrastructure such airport facilities, roads, water systems and medical facilities have to be improved to attract tourists. Tourists often wish to know that when they return from an exotic interior destination they will be comforted by the luxuries of a quality hotel in Georgetown. The importance of hot showers, quality restaurants, smooth roads and courteous airport officials, for example, cannot be underestimated even to the most intrepid backpacking adventure tourist.

  • Reliable medical and evacuation services: The nature of Guyana's industry is that tourists travel to remote areas often under arduous and sometimes risky conditions. Inevitably there will be accidents and the need for emergency evacuation. At present this recourse is not available, nor are medical treatment and facilities to the level that most tourists would consider adequate.

  • Professional product: Guyana's tourism product needs to be handled more professionally. This can be achieved through a number of changes such as regulation and monitoring and developing provisions for prosecuting those who fail to comply with the regulations and standards. It also requires further investment at both the private and public levels, especially in providing qualified and skilled staff and fostering a professional atmosphere that encourages a strong sense of commitment, pride and responsibility.

  • Security: Georgetown in particular has a bad name internationally as a dangerous city. In reality, it is probably safer than many cities around the world, but Guyanese over-emphasise the problem instead of taking corrective measures. Extra police and lighting are needed in principal tourist locations in the city and on frequently-used walkways. Security needs to be increased in key tourism sites; the potential for illegal immigration and the movement of drugs and other restricted goods demands a tighter net of security in these places.

  • Streamlining the procedure for obtaining interior permits and visas: An interior permitting procedure is standard policy to ensure that Amerindians are protected. However, the system should be streamlined so that applications to travel to the interior can be processed quickly. Tourists only have limited holiday time and will not tolerate sitting in a government office for hours; they will simply leave and visit a more organised country. To properly regulate visitation to the interior, permits should only be granted to tourism companies who have a proven track record and are willing to respect the communities they are working in.

  • Public liability insurance: International wholesalers and operators often inquire as to whether local operators carry public liability insurance. This requirement often determines whether an international operator will sell the Guyanese tourist product. Most local operators would like to carry such insurance but it is either unavailable or too expensive. This is an important area of concern as the nature of Guyana's product means that there will always be a risk of accidents. In the absence of insurance, the operators themselves are subject to payment of claims made by tourists, in amounts which can severely damage a small scale operation. Furthermore, the amount of compensation that would be awarded by a Guyanese court would not be internationally comparable. The repercussions for Guyana in such a case would be severe and wide-reaching due to the adverse international publicity and the fact that the country as a whole can be blacklisted as a high risk destination.

    8. Standards Within the Industry

    There is a strong feeling of responsibility among operators to maintain a good reputation for the industry in Guyana as a whole. This means a degree of self-regulation could work beneficially to prevent rogue operators from damaging the reputation of everyone, especially when the industry is in such an early stage of development. The Tourism Association of Guyana can play a role in assisting a national regulatory agency to monitor the industry and indeed it is currently developing standards for safety. There are also plans to develop guidelines to cover other aspects of quality control in the future. The Association cannot by itself function as a regulatory body; it can provide checks and send warning signals to relevant authorities, and it can help educate operators, but enforceable legislation and regulations are needed.

    Areas in which standards and regulations are urgently needed include:

  • Standards for licensing tour operators.

  • Regulations for building eco-tourism resorts.

  • Standards for other customer servers such as taxi drivers, boats, hotels, restaurants, employment of staff, etc.

  • Land use.

    The enforcement of these standards will be vital for a successful industry. The standards must be accompanied with stiff penalties that are compatible with the severity of the infringement.

    9. Investment

    First and foremost, it must be remembered that eco-tourism is a business. Investors and bankers will only support the industry if the profit potential justifies the high financial risk. The key to its success is achieving high occupancy rates and filling tours. Policies that protect the environment and promote safety, and the like, are irrelevant in the absence of policies that could attract investment.

    The Guyanese tourism industry is currently considered to be a high risk business by investors and bankers. The country is simply not perceived as a good investment in tourism because of the multiple risks involved. In addition to the financial risks normally associated with tourism itself, there are problems peculiar to Guyana related to the fact that the country's democracy is still in a stage of consolidation, to the uncertain overall investment climate and to the fact that Guyana is hardly known and that eco-tourism is still an emerging market. Investors are very skeptical: all things considered, the potential return often does not instill confidence, and investors would prefer to take their tourism investments elsewhere.

    Relevant points for consideration when formulating investment policies for tourism are:

  • Guyana has no track record with respect to tourism.

  • Eco-tourism is itself still an infant industry.

  • After opening a resort or a tour operation, it takes between eighteen months to two years of extensive marketing efforts before customers of any significant numbers can be attracted.

  • Contingencies have to be built into each plan, providing for periods of low occupancy rates, delays before a profitable level of business is achieved, natural disasters, etc.

  • The investor has to periodically spend money bringing the press, tour operators, Caribbean owners or managers (for joint tours), interested travel agents, and to prepare brochures, video tapes, etc. These costs are considerably higher during the start-up period.

  • Lodges and tours for eco-tourism are generally small. Thus there are high per capita overhead expenses.

  • Because of the high risk involved, investors need higher returns to satisfy the bankers' payback period of 5 to 6 years.

  • Twenty-five per cent of the gross selling price of a resort room has to be paid to the tour operator and be used to service bank charges such as the use of American Express, etc. Another 10 percent has to be devoted to cover advertising costs. The resort then has to cover operational expenses and make a profit with the remaining 65 percent.

  • Bankers would like to know that they can recover and transfer all property and land of an eco-tourism resort, as an adequate means of collateral in the event of a failed operation.

    At the same time, capital investment in eco-tourism in Guyana is between a quarter to a third of the per unit cost of a similar investment in the Caribbean. The typical capital investment cost per unit at an eco-lodge is about US$35,000 with appropriate fiscal concessions and infrastructure already in place (i.e., roads, air strip, etc.). A similar unit in a Caribbean destination is about US$100,000. Bankers may be willing to back such investments, provided the concerns mentioned above are mitigated.

    10. Education and Public Awareness

    The behaviour of eco-tourists can be an important issue. One does not become environmentally sensitive and responsible simply by booking onto an "eco-tourism" holiday or day trip. Tourists should not only be educated about their responsibilities to the environment, they should also be educated about the environment. In fact, the latter is a major component of an "eco-tourism" vacation whereby visitors have an opportunity to put their cameras down and engage in dialogue with their hosts. It is useful for native people in a host country or region to recognise the elements of the natural environment that may be new and of interest to the visitor. Natives guides in particular should be alert for the "teachable moment" that creates a bond between host and visitor. A true eco-tourist is also an "anthropotourist", deriving pleasure and satisfaction from learning how the environment is viewed through the eyes of local people.

    Local people also need to be educated to the potential impacts of receiving tourists as well as the expectations of such visitors. While it is certainly most important for local peoples to take pride in their customs and culture, it is also important to have an understanding of the travelers and their perspective on activities that may give rise to what is termed as "culture shock."

    There are also misguided perceptions about tourism among the wider Guyanese public that need to be dispelled such as:

  • That Guyana lacks true beauty and has limited tourism potential. (On the contrary, the tourism product is not limited, rather it is specialised.)

  • That applying the traditional image of tourism, largely based on the Caribbean model of sand, sea, and sun is the only valid one.

  • That the tourism industry benefits only a few.

  • That the industry is one of servitude. (Rather, there is an important difference between servitude and professional service.)

    An informed and trained citizenry is the backbone of any successful development process; education is the key. Guyanese need to appreciate the great value that the interior represents to the peoples of the densely populated urban cities of the developed world. A community that understands tourism is one that would be better able to benefit from it. Its development demands that the industry be developed and fashioned in the best interest of both the visitor and the residents of the community. This can only be done by creating an appropriate attitudinal environment and educating persons within the local community to talk about tourism as a viable alternative in Guyana. This should eventually lead to a wider understanding to the benefits of tourism and the roles of society in this new industry.

    NGOs can be a valuable source of funding and training of guides and other tourism-related staff. The Tourism Studies Unit at the University of Guyana could be strengthened to play an important role in educating the general public and disseminating accurate information. It can work in coordination with the Government's tourism regulating body, TAG and other NGOs, as well as the Carnegie School of Home Economics, hotels, and other tourism agencies. It should, however, guard against teaching a generic tourism product as opposed to teaching about the uniqueness of Guyana. Thus it should incorporate practical, on-the-job experience in its program.

    11. Partnerships in the Industry

    a. The Tourism Division

    At present, Government regulation and support services for the tourism industry are provided through the Tourism Division in the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry. This division was created in July, 1991, and emerged out of a reorganisation of the Public Service in 1990. Its creation hinged on a policy decision to formally establish a tourism industry in Guyana. One of its major functions is to co-ordinate the activities of the industry.

    This division is also responsible for:

  • The execution of national policy related to tourism.

  • The formulation and monitoring of tourism guidelines and regulations.

  • The marketing of the country's tourism image.

  • Human resource development for the industry.

    The Tourism Division is also a member of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and functions as the local coordinating agency for CTO activities. Much effort in the Division has also focused on international marketing and development of the product and the required human resources.

    Despite its best efforts, the Division of Tourism is understaffed and lacks the internal systems and structures for the smooth facilitation of programmes and activities required for its work. It is affected by many of the same ailments that are prevalent in other Government departments, such as a shortage of skills, a lack of facilities and no legal mandate to perform many of the functions that are required of the department.

    b. The Tourism Association of Guyana Limited (TAG)

    The Tourism Association of Guyana represents its members' interests in a number of ways by providing them with advice and assistance on marketing their products and making available all information concerning the promotion of Guyana abroad. It also deals with enquiries about tourism and passes on information to its members and to interested parties abroad. The Association has tried to promote the interests of its members by ensuring that high standards of safety and product quality are maintained throughout the industry. Plans are underway to certify all members meeting the required levels of safety and standards required by TAG but this cannot, and should not, replace government regulation of the industry, as TAG cannot by its very nature function as a national regulatory body.

    There have been questions about TAG's membership and how well it represents all the interests associated with Tourism. The list of potential members is quite long since tourism impacts on all sectors of the economy and the increase in tourist arrivals will ultimately benefit all business in Guyana.

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    B. Constraints

    There are significant and serious obstacles to the development of eco-tourism. If incorrect perceptions and misunderstandings about the sector prevail, then the opportunity for the development of a sustainable industry will be lost. The principal constraints to the development of the industry can be summarised as follows:

    1. Institutional Framework

    There is a lack of the required institutional framework to effectively implement, develop, and sustain the eco-tourism industry. This framework involves laws and behaviour codes for both eco-tourism operators and eco-tourists as well as for monitoring activities.

    2. Investment

    There is a lack of investment guidelines for an industry in which all investment would have to come from the private sector. This has led to a reluctance on the part of investors to enter the industry.

    The problems of investment are also related to the airline industry. The impediments to the development of the private aircraft industry, such as the substandard state of navigational facilities, lack of incentives for investment, regulations that create unequal competition (especially with regard to GAC), the reluctance of international airlines to come to Guyana, and policies that discriminate against new airline operations, among others, directly affect the tourism sector.

    Other impediments to investment include high duties and consumption taxes, high interest rates and the generally high cost of doing business in Guyana because of the bureaucratic delays.

    3. Land Use

    There is a lack of mechanisms to coordinate the allocation of land to various users, which has led to land conflicts which hamper the desired image of eco-tourism. For example, in areas of potential tourist value, there may be unchecked mining and unsustainable forestry practices. Together with a questionable record on the part of Guyana on protecting and preserving its environment, this takes away from the "green" image that is necessary for the development of tourism.

    There is also a lack of adequate land monitoring and regulating mechanisms. Few land use laws are realistically enforceable due to this lack of monitoring and regulating systems.

    4. Quality and Variety of Product

    Guyana's tourism product is not yet developed to the extent that it can competitively attract the typical eco-tourist, i.e. there are not enough lodges, tour sites, trained guides, etc. The sector currently runs the danger of disappointing visitors.

    5. Infrastructure

    There is a general lack of infrastructure to support the tourism industry. This is especially related to airstrip facilities in the interior such as refueling nodes. The absence of medical evacuation facilities is also a deterrent to the development of the industry, as is the prevalence of malaria and deficiencies of the potable water systems.

    6. National Parks

    The lack of a national parks system with a framework for managing them does not help to create an appropriate image for Guyana.

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    IV. Objectives

    The broad objective for a tourism strategy policy for Guyana is as follows:

    The further development of a tourism industry that balances the economic, social and environmental needs of Guyana to create a sustainable and profitable dynamic tourism sector. Achieving this sectoral objective will contribute to the national objectives (Chapter 2) of rapid economic growth and poverty alleviation, the latter because of employment creation effects, especially among hinterland populations.

    To achieve this sectoral objective, a number of sub-objectives can be defined as follows:

  • The promotion of an industry that makes appropriate use of what Guyana has to offer and takes full advantage of market trends in the tourism industry.

    2. The development of the industry by placing the protection of its natural resource base as its highest priority through the use of sustainable practices.

    3. The setting of standards and practices that are commensurate with the market that is being targeted.

    4. The development of an industry which ensures that its operations benefit widely the people of Guyana, in particular the Amerindian community.

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    V. Policy Recommendations and their Technical Justifications

    The central thrust of these new policies for tourism is a focused and unambiguous strategy of pursuing high quality, up-market eco-tourism in controlled numbers that do not exceed scientifically determined carrying capacities of interior sites. All other policies should follow from this central thrust.

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    A. Ministerial Responsibility

    The Minister responsible for tourism should be the same Minister responsible for the Environment, Protected Areas and Amerindian Affairs in a separate Ministry. This restructuring is fundamental and would result in a single person being able to speak for interests that have a lot in common.

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    B. Need for a National Tourism Board

    The idea for a National Tourism Board has been tabled for some time. It is absolutely vital that the creation this Board be undertaken urgently. Such a Board would replace the Tourism Advisory Board and absorb most of the functions of the Tourism Division of the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry. Its main responsibilities would be regulation, marketing, research and product development. This Board should be a semi-autonomous agency with the authority to hire, fire, set salary levels, etc. Funding should be supplied by Government with supplementary funding from licence fees on the industry and a diversion of the hotel room tax. This investment by Government would benefit the country several times over in a short period of time through increased corporate and income taxes, the generation of employment, foreign exchange inflows and through the spin-off effects on other industries.

    The composition of the Board is critical for its success. The Board should be composed of no more than nine persons, with five representatives from TAG and four from the Government. This would result in a Board that is widely representative but not too large to manage the affairs of the industry. The Government should have the authority to pick the chairperson from among the nine members. The President of TAG should be an automatic choice as one of the five private sector representatives. Appointments to the Board should be staggered so as to avoid the arbitrary replacement of members when the Executive of TAG or the Government changes hands.

    It will be the Board's responsibility to overesee the implementatioin of many of the recommendations stated in this chapter.

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    C. The Role of the Tourism Association of Guyana

    Currently, the Association is made up mostly of tour operators, resort owners and hoteliers, but it is being widened to include representatives from all sectors of the economy that have an impact on, or can benefit from, tourism. Consideration is already being given to including the mining and forestry private sector groups as associate members, and efforts are continuously being made to invite Amerindian representatives to join TAG.

    The Association will continue to set minimum standards with which all members serving the industry must comply. Certification will be given only to those who meet or exceed these standards. The Association should develop classification and grading schemes for its members that can be based on physically measurable criteria. For example, in the case of tour operators, it can be based on the number of passengers the operator puts into a boat, the type of aircraft that is used, or the provision of education on the ecosystem etc. These classifications can make tourists aware that Guyana is serious about tourism and as the sector in Guyana grows it can assist international certifiers in grading Guyana's product. Standards set by TAG will not supersede those set by the Tourism Board

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    D. Protected Areas

    A large percentage of tourists can be expected to visit National Parks. Parks therefore need to be carefully regulated, and the lines of responsibility for these parks must be clearly delineated. For example, responsibility for protected areas should be removed from the Ministry of Health and placed in the hands of appropriate authorities, through the reorganisation indicated in subsection A above.

    It is important that certain criteria be established for each protected area in the interest of tourism. Among these are definitions for the carrying capacity of each and guidelines for visitation. Among the guidelines for visitation will be specifications regarding the length of stay, requirements for trained guides, means of access, controls on the removal of flora and fauna and the taking of pictures, visitation by individuals or groups, etc. Within the park itself there may be areas in which absolutely no one is allowed to go, for protection of the area's biodiversity.

    (Guidelines for the sustainable management of the forests and the environmental soundness of mining operations are covered in Chapters 30 and 32, respectively, of this National Development Strategy. )

    The boundaries of the Kaieteur National Park should be determined as a matter of urgency and all mining in the Kaieteur watershed and the gorge below the falls should be immediately stopped. Among the major tasks that must be accomplished as a matter of priority are to:

  • Obtain a definitive boundary survey and posting the perimeter.

  • Obtain a topographic survey with the appropriate contour intervals identified for a more detailed study.

  • Develop consultative mechanisms for incorporating representatives of local Amerindian groups in the decision making concerning the site.

  • Locate significant site features, e.g., trees, marshes, streams, existing structures (if any), archaeologically significant areas, etc.

  • Obtain aerial photographs of the site to confirm survey information.

  • Identify a sustainable power source on the site.

  • Investigate soil conditions and bearing capacities for the number of tourists and any construction.

  • Review the local watershed layout relative to the site, noting activities on adjacent property which may impact on drainage and water quality.

  • Investigate present and planned uses for adjacent property.

  • Study any significant archaeological sites on the property.

    The OAS project for the Kaieteur National Park should be opened for private sector comment before its finalisation and implementation.

    International organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International must be invited by Government to conduct additional scientific and other environmental studies in parks, along the lines of the ones that they are currently doing. The support and stamp of approval of these groups is important. These organisations should also be able to attract funds for the parks' maintenance and upkeep. In any case, realistic charges will have to be paid by tourists to enter the parks so as to provide sufficient revenues to cover all costs.

    Lessors of large tracts of private land in the interior could also be encouraged to convert these into protected areas. In allocating land among sectors, priority should be given to eco-tourism for the simple reason that the land can be used afterwards for other extractive industries if the tourism venture proves not to be in the best interest of the country. Land that is used for extractive industries cannot be used for other purposes afterwards.

    After the initiation of the Guyana Rainforest Foundation (Chapter 18) linkages should be explored between its activities and programmes to support eco-tourism.

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    E. Amerindian Involvement in Tourism

    In developing the tourism industry efforts must be made to ensure that Amerindians are involved. Tourism should be started at a slow and measured pace in Amerindian communities so as not to overwhelm local capacity and result in a sudden increase in social stresses. Aiming at once for state-of-the-art tourist lodges may not be the way to initiate eco-tourism ventures in Amerindian communities. There will of course be the need for good business management such as rigorous bookkeeping and accountability for funds received and the reliable supplies of goods and services for guests.

    Due to the limited experience that Amerindians have with development projects, tourism ventures to be started and managed by Amerindians will have to be accompanied by:

  • A local group with the initiative and willingness to maintain the level of effort that an eco-tourist venture entails.

  • Intensive and extensive training of Amerindians in business management, account-keeping, accountability, etc.

  • Start-up capital that is affordable and accessible to Amerindians.

  • A commitment by central Government and funding agencies to work to sustain Amerindian ventures in the eco-tourist field.

  • The encouragement of partnerships between Amerindians, investors and nature and conservation NGOs in developing tourism sites.

  • Continuous information-sharing and consultation with Amerindians in the development of tourism.

    Clearly, all of these requirements cannot be fulfilled by Government or the tourism industry only. Non-governmental organisations and others will have to play a role. Other aspects of the National Development Strategy with respect to Amerindian affairs have to be incorporated. For example, given Government's fiscal constraints, it is unlikely that it can be depended on to provide subsidised loans. However, the establishment of an Amerindian Development Fund will provide a source funding. Chapter 22 of the National Development Strategy, Amerindian Policies, provides more details on the proposed Fund. The use of such funds for tourism ventures presents an ideal opportunity for the sustainable development of Amerindians.

    Amerindian involvement may also provide the more affordable alternative that Guyanese need in order to visit the interior. This could have the spin-off effect of allowing other Guyanese to observe Amerindians in their interior environment and utilise their services as guides, teachers, etc., which would lead to a greater respect for the indigenous community.

    With regard to tour operators entering Amerindian communities, guidelines need to be established for gaining permits. An overall code of conduct should be developed between tour operators and the Amerindians that all tourists must follow. Such a code should provide guidelines for taking photographs, access to sacred sites, times of visiting, etc. It will be the responsibility of tour operators to educate tourists about these regulations before visiting Amerindian communities. Failure to do so could result in licences being revoked. Individual Amerindian communities may develop stricter codes. The collection of head fees by Amerindian communities should be legislated.

    Finally, of course, Amerindians will decide for themselves if eco-tourism ventures are worth the trouble or not. They would also have to find ways to limit or mitigate the stresses of this new industry. In each case, the community in question should decide on the soundness of eco-tourism on a project-by-project basis.

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    F. Investment

    1. Tax Concessions and Exemptions

    Since tourism is essentially a private sector enterprise, the right conditions to attract private investment must be in place. Investors must feel a sense of security about investing in a country and a sector that are perceived as high risk. By international standards of the industry, the first concession would be a tax holiday on all capital investments in the sector for five to seven years. This is below the ten-year concession that is commonly given to developers in Caribbean destinations. Secondly, until the more uniform tax code discussed in Chapters 13 and 36 is implemented, the industry should be given a waiver on duty and consumption taxes for the import of items necessary for the tourism industry. At present, in the absence of these concessions, the industry is stagnant and does not contribute as much as it could to the Government coffers. The returns from granting these concessions would be perceived soon afterwards, basically in the form of higher income tax revenues.

    2. The Development of Lodges

    As a practical measure, the Lands and Surveys Department must first of all embark on a special project to eliminate the existing backlog of all applications for land and institute mechanisms for the fast processing of land applications.

    The development of lodges can be expected to occur on lands in two categories. The first category includes the obvious areas: next to or in proposed National Parks such as Kaieteur, in the Kanuku mountains, at Shell Beach, or around Orinduik Falls, for example. In the second category would be lands identified by investors at their own expense. Under current land policies, annual lease rates for all lands should be based on a percentage of the gross revenues, say between 2 to 3 percent, or based on market lease rates, which ever is higher. (The reforms to land policy proposed in Chapter 29 would be as beneficial to the tourism sector as to agriculture.)

    In the first category, there can be expected to be more potential investors than can be allowed, especially at places such as Kaieteur top. Therefore, mechanisms need to be put in place for selecting those who will be allowed to build a lodge there. As a first step, there must be minimum criteria set for these location, such as the maximum number of units per lodge. This would ensure that several investors are allowed to invest; thus if it is determined that the area can support only 40 units, then Government may stipulate 5 lodges at 8 units per lodge. The minimum capital investment should also be specified. The locations will then be put up for auction to those who meet the minimum requirements. The bids will be judged on two criteria: the percentage of gross revenues that an investor is willing to pay to Government as annual rent for the land and the capital investment that is proposed for the site over a given period, such as five years. The winning bid will be the one with the highest product from the percentage of gross revenues and the capital investment. This would guard against the possibility of an investor losing the bid when the lease rate offered is smaller than another but the proposed investment is higher.

    A portion of the lease rates should be turned over to nearby Amerindian communities. This is an innovative approach because it places the Government, the investor and the Amerindians on the same side of the equation; they would all like to see greater returns to the investment because they all have more to gain. At the same time, the Amerindians have an incentive to protect the land because in the long-term it will represent a continuous source of income. Amerindians can also monitor the operations of the investors with respect to reporting requirements, such as the number of tourists that visit.(3)

    In the second category of land, in which an investor identified the land needed for setting up a lodge, the investor must again meet certain minimum requirements before being granted a lease or freehold title to the land. Rights to the land should be given on a first come, first served basis provided the minimum requirements are met. In this case, the lease should be offered at market rates or as a fixed percentage of the gross revenues whichever is higher. The latter arrangement would, however, require careful monitoring because investors might tend to under-report visitation. Again, arrangements could be entered into whereby a portion of the lease payments is diverted for the benefit of nearby Amerindian communities.

    In all cases, leases should be for 99 years, be freely transferrable from one person to another and be available for use as collateral, as discussed in Chapter 29. Banks should have the authority to reposess land and property on which an eco-tourism site is built. Whenever possible, lands should be sold to investors in freehold.

    Guidelines should also be developed to mandate buffer zones around lodges, the distance between lodges, etc. There should also be certain allocations allowed for Guyanese investors, especially at places such as Kaieteur.

    The Government should embark on a project to list all the sites in the interior that have been identified as desirable areas for the development of lodges. Tourism site investment listings have been highly successful in a number of countries in encouraging the right type of investment suitable to the peculiarities and carrying capacity of the land identified.

    3. Financial Monitoring

    The new Tourism Board should insist that assessments and reports, financial and otherwise, be prepared by lodge owners in a consistent and timely manner. Bank reports should be copied to the Ministry responsible for Tourism. Severe penalties should be issued for fraudulent reporting and/or non-compliance. Computer-assisted accounting and reporting will help make the process easier and more efficient.

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    G. Air Transport

    This sector needs to be opened up as soon as possible for effective functioning and to benefit all sectors of the Guyanese economy. With respect to tourism this necessitates the participation of private capital and management in the domestic operations of GAC. This should be accompanied by the freeing up of restrictions on general aviation to allow for more competition. Aircraft owners should also be allowed to decide what type of aircrafts they would like to buy. The management of Ogle aerodrome should be passed on to the Private Aircraft Owners Association and refueling centers need to be set up in interior locations.

    Other details for setting up a autonomous Air Transport Authority and adopting an open skies policy with respect to international airlines are given in Chapter 38, Transport Development. Such changes will provide tourists with more flight connections to visit Guyana and would be of enormous benefit to the sector.

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    H. Product Improvement

    The following areas of Guyana's tourism product should be improved using the suggested guidelines.

    1. Visitor Security

    Visitor security should be an absolute priority through out Guyana. This must be guaranteed on all levels simultaneously; it should include training for the police force on interaction with tourists as well as a permanent police presence in the major thoroughfares of main towns and cities. Street lighting needs to be improved. Procedures on crime reporting should be streamlined to enable the visitor to spend as little time as possible in police stations reporting crimes, and all efforts should be made to make the experience of crime reporting as hassle free and as comfortable as possible.

    In addition to education for the police force on dealing with tourists, the best form of visitor protection can be achieved by educating the general public to look out for tourists and their safety and to discourage crimes against tourists within their own communities. This mind set already exists to some extent, as part of the genuine warmth and hospitality that most Guyanese have towards visitors. This attitude needs only to be enhanced through good public awareness campaigns showing how local Guyanese can benefit from tourism and visitor safety.

    Due to the fact that certain areas of the interior are open to drug trafficking and other criminal activity (Kaieteur is a prime example), the efforts of the Guyana Defense Force, the police force and tour operators should be coordinated in these areas. Police stations should be set up in areas where tourist activity is high, in particular at Kaieteur Falls, where there have been many reported incidents of theft from tourists.

    2. Search and Rescue

    There must be a national search and rescue operation that can deal with all eventualities. This includes high-level detection methods, fast and effective evacuation procedures and top level medical training and equipment. This would require an established mechanism between the Tourism Board, TAG, the Government, the police and the army.

    Tour operators must have adequate safety equipment for the tours they conduct. Training in first aid and CPR must be mandatory for all persons/guides conducting or in charge of tourists, and adequate emergency evacuation plans and procedures must be set for all tour operations and resorts. These safety procedures and equipment must be linked to the licensing of these operations, and failure to comply with the minimum safety standards set for the industry should carry severe and enforceable penalties for the failure in their observance.

    A list of licensed operators should be made available to all tourists through hotels and other outlets.

    3. Insurance

    At present, many resorts, hotels and tour operations within the industry do not have public liability insurance. Steps should be taken to amend laws pertaining to insurance to give the industry access to adequate levels of insurance. In conjunction with this, adequate insurance for all resorts, hotels, charter airlines and tour operations should be made mandatory and linked to the licensing of these operations.

    4. Financial Streamlining

    While more retail outlets, restaurants, hotels and tour operations in Georgetown are beginning to accept credit cards, this acceptance is still not widespread in the capital city, let alone nationwide. Travelers' checks are accepted as reliable currency, but since many outlets must wait 28 days for reimbursement, this discourages their use. All necessary steps must be taken to ensure that tourists can get easy access to money and that facilities for changing foreign exchange and travelers checks are widespread and convenient.

    5. Visas

    Though there has been a relaxation on visa requirements for visitors to Guyana, pre-travel visa requirements for entry into Guyana should be completely eliminated.

    6. Timehri International Airport

    Plans for the expansion and upgrading of Timehri International Airport are underway and are described in Chapter 38 of this National Development Strategy. With regard to tourism, the airport is in urgent need of fully manned tourist arrival and departure booths. The departure booth will also be a place for lodging complaints about Guyana that should be channeled back to the relevant authorities.

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    I. Marketing Guyana as an Eco-tourism Destination

    Marketing tourism can be expected to be expensive and the Tourism Board will have to enter into arrangements with the Government and industry to promote generic advertising for the country. As the industry and the economy grow this can be done through a mechanism of matching funds, whereby the Government agrees to match funds pledged by TAG at an agreed ratio, say of 1:2 (industry to Government).

    Specific markets must be studied and targeted individually according to their needs and demands. There should be tourism representatives in key cities such as New York, Miami, Toronto, London and Frankfurt. Niche groups such as clubs for bird watching, nature tourism, biodiversity study and conservation that pre-qualify as eco-tourists should be targeted with information on Guyana. The advertising dollar should be carefully spent in appropriate magazines such as those that deal with nature and the environment. The country must also invite writers and specialised tour operators for visits to the national sites as a way of gaining publicity and marketing the product.

    Guyana is currently featured in the South American Handbook, but efforts must be made to improve that information, produce more literature on Guyana itself and to include Guyana in a wider range of guide books featuring South American and Caribbean destinations. In addition, the use of existing and up-and-coming technologies should be explored as a way to convey information to the international traveler. While Guyana is marginally listed on the Internet, this facility has to be expanded and upgraded; given the profile of the average eco-tourist, computer based technology is an excellent way to convey information to this segment of the market.

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    J. Joint Destination Tourism

    Joint destination packages should be developed with neighboring countries. However, this does not mean that Guyana can expect to encourage operators in the Caribbean to send their visitors here. Joint destination tourism is about attracting tourists to Guyana in the first place and encouraging them here by offering them an extension trip to another destination. The industry should work closely with the Board in promoting this.

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    K. Regular Bulletin on the Industry

    There is need for an adequate system for collecting information on visitor arrivals, visitor activities, and visitor feedback. This information must be collected and collated in a timely manner and must be made public. This would provide the industry with up-to-date information on the market and allow it to see where it stands with respect to overall trends. The published totals would also allow the comparison of figures by different agencies to keep track of the number of tourists that visit Guyana. For instance, the number of tourists that visit Kaieteur National Park can be compared to the number of visitors that are reported visiting there by tour operators. While the published figures would represent totals, figures for individual companies will be open for inspection by tax officials to ensure compliance with reporting requirements.

    The bulletin could also include information on the world travel market, such as emerging tastes and visitor preferences. This would allow to Guyana to respond efficiently and effectively to changing patterns.

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    L. Regulations and Standards within the Industry

    In regulating the industry, the Tourism Board will have the authority to licence operators, resort owners, hoteliers, and other tourism-related operators. The Board will also set minimum standards to be met by those involved in the sector; meeting these standards would also be one of the criteria for obtaining a licence. It is not expected that the Board will itself grade or classify facilities, but this responsibility will be left to independent certifiers. The Board will have the responsibility for writing and monitoring regulations and standards.

    To ensure that the tourism industry can deliver on the promises it makes through its marketing campaign, strict standards need to be set within the industry with appropriate penalties for non compliance, particularly standards pertaining to visitor safety and environmental integrity.

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    M. Tour Guides

    Tour guides are an important part of interior resorts and tour operations. Areas of knowledge should include basic life saving procedures as well as a good information base on the geography of Guyana and the wildlife and eco-systems in the different regions of the country. Of primary importance would be the communication skills of such persons; it is not just what they know, it is the ability to impart it to tourists that matters. The Tourism Board in conjunction with the University of Guyana should develop short courses for tourist guides, and practical training with hoteliers and operators should be pursued. The use of guest lectures from the industry should be actively encouraged.

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    N. The Wildlife Trade

    Severe restrictions and legislation governing the wildlife trade should be implemented. Breeding of these animals is an alternative for satisfying the needs of tourists and restaurants in Georgetown.

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    O. Georgetown

    Strict zoning and building codes should be enforced in Georgetown. New buildings in the city should be made to conform to Georgetown's rich architectural heritage. The further construction of concrete buildings along Main Street and Avenue of the Republic should be proscribed. (See Chapter 23 of this Strategy for more on this topic.)

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    P. Continuity of Work in the Sector

    Follow-up efforts in the sector, such as the Integrated Eco-tourism Development Plan by the OAS, must build upon the recommendations of this Strategy.

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    Q. Public Health

    The Tourism Board and TAG must work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that an integrated and effective attack is carried out on malaria and other vector-borne diseases.

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    VI. Legislative Requirements(4)

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    A. Establishing the Tourism Board

    Legislation needs to be enacted to establish a Tourism Board for the support of the tourism industry. This Board could be established through the Public Corporations Act (1988) or by completely new legislation.

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    B. Government Regulations

    Following from the laws which establish the Tourism Board, a series of regulations should be prepared to implement those laws. It is not recommended that the regulatory framework of Guyana's tourism legislation should extend, in the present situation, to imposing qualitative classification or grading by law, but eventually that should be a goal.

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    C. Services to Tourism

    1. International Transportation

    It is recommended that Guyana should replace its applied civil aviation codes with local legislation. More details on the legislative changes required are given in Chapter 38. However, if resource constraints dictate the continued use of British legislation for Guyana's aviation law, then it is recommended that a least Guyanese legislation should be enacted to give the Minister the choice of when to adopt and apply new British regulations. In this way, the laws can be updated periodically based on trends in the world as reflected in updated British laws.

    2. International Water Transportation

    Guyana still depends on the United Kingdom's Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. Since a modern Caribbean-oriented model Shipping Act exists, which has been prepared by CARICOM in conjunction with the Caribbean Law Institute, it is recommended that Guyana should enact this legislation. For Guyana, the main advantage of such legislation would be to give some control of ships in its waters and sports.

    Guyana's interest in maritime legislation should not be confined to passenger movements at sea. Maritime pollution could hurt the tourism product through, for example, the depletion of the sea turtles in the northwest. While Guyana is a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the Maritime Boundaries Act can be considered to allow for the exploitation of resources through jurisdictional allocation, this Act does not provide for environmental considerations. The fact that Guyana did not sign any of the leading International Maritime Organisation Conventions except the constituent convention, does not auger well for the protection of the marine environment. Guyana should meet international obligations to have legislation in place to safeguard the marine environment under its jurisdiction, and should participate in MARPOL 1973/78(5) and SOLAS.(6)

    With respect to inland water navigation, the River Navigation Act and Regulations and the Fisheries Act should be reviewed with regard to the standards they require for river navigation and to their exemptions of categories of craft from the application of those standards.

    3. Accommodations, Restaurants and Places of Entertainment

    a. General hotels regulation

    It is recommended that a system of registration for hotels in the tourist sector be enshrined in law. This system would require that standards be met and maintained as a condition of such registration by the Tourism Board. These standards should be consistent with the best modern industry practice.

    Reference to hotels in the laws of Guyana are found in the Provisions Relating to Common Lodging Houses which form a part of the City's by-laws and made under powers contained in the Municipal and District Act. This has certain problems, such as: 1) it relates only to Georgetown, 2) it does not differentiate between hotels, apartments and guest houses, and 3) the standards are outdated.

    The Common Lodging House By-Laws (Laws of British Guiana, 1953 Vol. VIII, p. 1609) apply across the country, but they do not appear to govern hotels. New laws in this area also need to reexamine the minimum number of rooms per hotel that make these liable for payment of the hotel room tax. Consideration should be given to removing the stipulation that only hotels in excess of 15 rooms are liable to pay the tax. Interior resorts should continue to be excluded from the hotel room tax, regardless of the minimum number of rooms they contain so as not to discourage the construction of lodges in the interior.

    b. Protection of hotels from visitors' claims

    A good precedent in law to protect hotel owners from claims from visitors is the English Hotel Proprietors' Act of 1956. This law allows an escape from being liable for losses suffered by guests unless they take advantage of the hotel's security system. Reasonable limits for losses are the equivalent of US$100 for any one item and US$200 as the aggregate loss. There should also be legislation to prevent guests who do not pay their hotel bills from leaving Guyana.

    c. Food licensing and food safety

    The legislative provisions for hotels and restaurants in Georgetown should be applied countrywide. Although there is provision against the employment of food handlers suffering from infection diseases, it is not clear that the current system of food handlers' permits is legislated. The current system of permits which must be renewed every six months also need to be reviewed, with the intent of extending the validity of the permit. Extending its validity would reduce the logistical problems and expense of bringing food handlers from the interior to Georgetown to be tested. A strengthening of the system of distributing these permits regionally could also be pursued.

    Legislation should also be enacted that requires new restaurants and hotels, or those undergoing renovation, to have adequate toilet facilities and amenities for disabled persons.

    d. Places of entertainment

    The preparation of special legislation to regulate places of public entertainment, with rules governing matters such as capacity limitations, provision of sanitary facilities and fire exits, safeguards against noise nuisance, and other offences to neighbouring residents, is recommended. Similarly, legislation is needed that provides in detail the required fire safety criteria, or structural reliability, means of escape, fire-fighting equipment, fire detection, and restriction or suppression of the spread of fire.

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    D. Zoning

    It would appear that the Town and Country Planning Act provides legal control over zoning and the quality and suitability of the construction of buildings in Georgetown, but these are not enforced. The law should be updated and areas in Georgetown such as Main Street and the Avenue of the Republic should be included. The Act should be amended to provide for its automatic application to newly developed areas.

    The designation of a buffer zone of 66 feet inland from the low water mark of creeks as Government reserve should be maintained but legislative allowance should be made for restricted use of such zones by lodges that are adjacent to creeks. This should not prejudice the use of the zone for access.

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    E. Building Codes and Tourism Facilities

    Building codes for interior lodges can be expected to vary from those for structures built from established building materials. It is impractical to develop codes for interior resorts because of the new and multitudinous indigenous materials that may legitimately be used. The use of such materials is necessary if lodges are going to fit into the surrounding environment. Lodges must, however, be certified by a professional engineer.

    There must also be minimum standards legislated for the disposal of sewerage and garbage. These should be included in the requirements for environmental impact statements for tourist facilities in the interior.

    There should also be regulations for the distance between tourism lodges and buffer zones around lodges, etc.

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    F. National Parks

    It is intended that legislation covering the establishment of National Parks and Protected Areas will be written as Guyana moves to establish a Protected Areas System. The new law should replace the Kaieteur National Park Act (Cap. 20:02) and National Parks Commission Act (1977-23). The powers of the Guyana Forestry Commission "to identify, establish, maintain and manage forests including national parks, wildlife areas, and natural reserves" should be removed from the Commission and place under the authority established to regulate National Parks.

    The National Trust Act (Cap. 20:03) provides for the protection of national monuments but this needs adequate enforcement.

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    G. Protection of Wildlife and Fisheries

    The Fisheries Act (Cap. 78:01) and accompanying Fisheries Aquatic Wild Life Regulations and the Wild Birds Protection Act (Cap. 71:01) allow for some protection of fisheries and birds. The scope of the Fisheries Act is not confined to fauna but is wide enough to include the protection of both marine and fresh water aquatic flora, as the result of the amendment of the Act in 1977.

    Between these two acts, four-footed wildlife is excluded. The Wild Life Protection Act of 1987, which should have remedied this situation, is still not enacted. This Act should be enacted.

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    H. The Environmental Protection Act

    The recent enactment of the Environmental Protection Bill should be followed expeditiously by the drafting of suitable regulations for the implementation of its various prescriptions.

    APPENDIX 1a. Typical Offerings in the Guyanese Tourism Industry



    RESORT LOCATION Mazaruni River

    Madawini Creek Linden Highway

    Kaow Island, Essequibo North Rupununi Annai, North Rupununi Essequibo River Pokerero River


    165 136 125 square miles

    +/- 3

    96 15
    LAND TENURES 25 yr. lease from Lands & Surveys Transport land 25 year lease from Lands & Surveys Amerindian or State has permission from both Transport Land Lease from Santa Amerindian Reservation
    ACTIVITIES Swimming, volley ball, jet skies, jet boat tours to surrounding nature spots. Caters for groups, individuals, conference facilities Swimming, Boats, fishing , cycling, walking , bird watching, miniature golf, table tennis, conference facilities Trails, fishing, water sports, swimming, sauna, visit to nearby historical sites Boat trips, bird watching, trekking, fishing, Amerindian villages Pony trekking, bird watching and nature tours, fishing, Amerindian villages, visit to Iwokrama Jungle walks, water sports, boat tours to surrounding areas, croquet, golf Day & Evening jungle walks and boat tours, cayman watching, bird watching, canoeing, swimming, volleyball and badminton.
    COST ALL INCLUSIVE G $8 000 (Day trip) US $ 85 (day trip)

    US $ 155- 245 o/n

    US $ 120 per person o/n plus cost of transportation US $ 120 US $ 95 - 115 US $ 125 US $90 (Day Trip)

    US $ 145 ( Overnight)

    TARGET GROUP Overseas Business and holidays, local overseas, local and overseas business persons. Expats based in Guyana overseas: holiday and business not specified Guyanese, Brazilian, Overseas Overseas and Local Mainly overseas business persons and tourists, some local tourists
    START DATE 1995 19/09/92 late 1989 1989 April 1993 May 1992 May 1991
    CAPACITY 16-26 12 10 8 16-25 20
    EXPANSION PLANS More resorts planned in the Interior. Head Falls resort opening Yes No Yes, up to 20 persons Yes - more cottages Yes
    PRIMARY LAND USE Tourism Tourism Saw milling Cattle ranching Ranching and Farming Tourism Tourism

    Min. Of Trade & Tourism

    Lands & Surveys

    Min. of Trade & Tourism

    Min. Of Finance

    Min. of Trade; Guyana Natural Resources Agency Min. of Trade & Tourism Min. of Trade & Tourism Min. of Trade & Tourism Mins. of Trade & Tourism, Finance, Foreign Affairs


    Yes, family live there and run facilities

    Yes, employed on site.

    Yes, employed on site and visit Amerindian villages

    Yes, employment, support from council

    None, except support local schools and help out in emergencies Yes, employment and close links with villages of Santa

    APPENDIX 1b. Typical Offerings in the Guyanese Tourism Industry

    HOTEL Ariantze Cara Lodge Cara Suites Embassy Club Park Hotel Campala Hotel Pegasus Hotel Queenstown Inn Hotel Tower

    176 Middle
    293, Quamina Street

    176, Middle
    Pere Street

    37, Main

    10, Camp
    Seawall Road

    65, Anira &
    Peter Rose

    74-75 Main


    14 15 22 45 22 134 6













    Business, leisure
    Business Business

    Business/ Group Delegations



    COST $55 $ 85-130 $87- 145 $80-130 $ 40- 60 $61- 82 $ 110-260 $55-80

    $85- 160










    circa 1866



    3-4 Rooms


    2 Executive


    Create an interior resort


    Upgrading facilities



    14 Deluxe Rooms


    Min. of Trade

    Min. of Trade

    Min. of

    Min. of Trade

    Min. of
    Min. of Trade

    Min. of Trade

    Min. of


    Min. of Trade

    Min. of Fin. Min. of F. A.

    Min. of Trade


    Services and Facilities

    1. Private Bath/ Shower 4. Restaurant 7. Business Center 10. Night Club

    2. Air Conditioning 5. Telephone 8. Bar

    3. Swimming Pool 6.Television 9. Gym

    APPENDIX 1c. Typical Offerings in the Guyanese Tourism Industry

    Company Cattelya Rainforest CORTOURS Discover Tours Shell Beach Adventures White Water Adventures Wilderness Explorers Wonderland Tours
    LOCATION OF TOURS Kaitieur, Essequibo Region, Bartica, Linden Orealla - Manituba, Corentyne River Kaiteur, Orinduik

    Emerald Tower

    Shell Beach , Kaieteur/ Orinduik, Essequibo and personalised activities anywhere. Mazaruni Comprehensive standard and custom designed itineraries to all areas of Guyana Kaiteur & Orinduik, Santa Mission, Essequibo, Mazaruni, G/T city tour, Berbice, Linden
    ACTIVITIES City Tours, Overland trips, Nature walks, Trekking, fishing Boat Tours, hiking (3-5 days) Bird watching, Overland Camping, River Tours, Kaiteur & Orinduik Kaiteur & Orinduik Falls by air, Rupununi Ranches & Kaiteur Inland river trips Nature and adventure based activities such as bird watching, wildlife watching, hiking, canoeing, horse trekking, history tours and cultural tours Essequibo Fiver, Santa Mission, Kaiteur & Orinduik
    COST RANGE $20 (City) $150/day (1-7 days) $8140 - $800/day $175/ day $50 - $170 $60 US (G$8000) incl. Day trip

    $120 US(G$16 800) o/n trip

    From US$30

    7 days -US$1,140

    14 days-US$2,095

    TARGET GROUP Local (w/discount)

    regional (W.I.) Germans &British

    Intl.. mostly Local & Intl. Local & Intl. Local, overseas, business International, regional and local Overseas Guyanese
    START DATE 1994, April 1974 1995, April 1995, March 1 August, 1994 1989

    Min- Max

    2-12 3-15 8- no maximum 4 - no max. 15-40 Minimum 1 person. No maximum 2-60
    EXPANSION PLANS Resort site in Santa Mission Building camps in Manituba Great falls Not Immediately More Cabins (private) on island Nature resort and itineraries to new areas Shell Beach Overland Kamarang & area
    GVT. LIASION Min. of Trade Min. of Trade/ Min. of A.A. Min. of Trade Min. of Trade; Min. of Amerindian Affairs No liaison


    Amer. Boat guide; family inside mission, also overseas site Very little, other than visiting settlements Work sites run by Amerindians All Amerindian involvement - family full time at Shell Beach -guides, drivers etc. Amerindian staff on site and in Georgetown Partnership with some Amerindian communities to conduct tours. Others employed for tours as necessary. Interior - hired on freelance basis

    Appendix 2a: Visitor Arrivals by Country of Origin 1992 - 1994
    Country 1992 1993 1994 % Share 1994
    USA 34566 57269 42143 37.4
    Canada 13976 no data 17668 15.7
    Europe 6763 7892 8104 7.2
    Caribbean 14427 19514 21916 19.4
    South America 5149 20553 20904 18.5
    Other no data 1899 2016 1.8
    Total 74881 107127 112751 100

    Appendix 2b: Monthly Arrivals of Visitors 1992 - 1994
    Month 1992 1993 1994
    January 4562 6251 7513
    February 5463 7039 7322
    March 4994 7567 9330
    April 5990 8169 7974
    May 5122 6933 6629
    June 5261 8320 8278
    July 9699 13972 14760
    August 9136 12345 14692
    September 4594 7233 7550
    October 4538 7203 6715
    November 5127 7236 6924
    December 10395 14959 15064
    TOTAL 74881 107227 112751

    Source: Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Caribbean Tourism Statistical Report 1993; 1994

  • 1. 0 Guyana Visitor Survey, 1993/94. Caribbean Tourism Organisation in Cooperation with the Guyana Statistical Bureau and the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Industry. Published in 1995.

    2. 0 Kelly, E., Developing Tourism for Guyana: Policy and Strategy Plan (1989).

    3. 0 As an alternative to the selection process outlined above, lessors could be selected based on two other criteria: the initial lease rental that an investor is willing to pay and the yearly percent increase in this rate that is offered. Similarly to the process outlined above, the winning bid would be the one in which the cumulative fees over the lease period will provide the highest returns to Government.

    4. 0 For this section, reference is made to Guyana Tourism Legislation Project, November 1995 by A. Ralph Carnegie and Ainsley M. O'Reilly. Published by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation and the Guyana Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism.

    5. 0 International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships 1973, as amended by Protocol of 1978.

    6. 0 The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974.

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