-Minister Walrond leads stakeholders on Region Ten visit
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond on Sunday led a team of senior tourism officials and stakeholders to Linden, Region 10, on an outreach aimed at fostering tourism development there.
The minister first met with the Region 10 tourism committee at the Watooka House, where officials raised several concerns and issues regarding tourism in the region.
Minister Walrond told stakeholders that she would like to see more private sector involvement in tourism.
“Every single region has something to offer and Region 10 has been particularly vibrant in terms of your tourism offerings, and I would like to see more private sector people involved in the tourism committee. This is not to replace but to augment, the eating places, restaurants,’ tour guides, more of you involved,” Minister Walrond said.
This move, she said, will bring more “buy in” and more coordination from the promotion products.
“The development that is contemplated for Region 10 and indeed for every single region in Guyana, cannot be done by government alone, it has to be private sector driven, it has to be private sector funded,” she continued.
The minister noted that there are interests from investors in Dubai and Qatar, however there is a challenge in finding local partners in the sector.
“It has been a real disappointment for me, that I cannot present to the Qataris who come here with billions of US dollars to invest in projects, and we couldn’t find private sector tourism products that were ready to present as a proposal to these businessmen, to the people who come here looking for opportunities… we really need to get our act together, that we are not running a cake shop, with the development that we are talking about for the region and indeed for the rest of Guyana, we want it to be big, we want it to be spectacular.”
The minister noted that coordination is important and that “there are no consortiums, it has to be a collective effort.”
She noted too, that government only supports projects that benefit the people in the community, continuing that much could be accomplished in the region if a serious approach is taken.
“We had nothing to offer, or very little to offer in terms of actual projects, proposal that is done.”
She urged the stakeholders to bring ‘big’ proposals.
“It has to be a local partnership. We are not going to have investors come in and they run the project themselves. We are insisting, as government, that local people have to be partners, so you don’t have to worry that it’s gonna be taken out of you, so we really have to step up our game in terms of this business of tourism, and to make it profitable for the people it has to be a bigger vision,” Minister Walrond noted.
“There is no doubt that Region 10 is beautiful, but need to up the game in terms of the vision for the region and the types of vision that we have.
Start to dream big, think of the larger projects, think of the multimillion USD projects, and then we can advance them as phased projects.
“The kinds of vision that we have for Guyana in the tourism industry, we can’t do it and what we are doing is laying an enabling environment, in terms of doing the infrastructure works, bringing in the investors, when we go out there it is us selling Guyana,” Minister Walrond noted.
“The idea of this trip is to basically get to the locations that are yet undiscovered, that are under the radar and to shine the spotlight on this gem that is the tourism product of Region Ten,” Minister Walrond told DPI.
Following the meeting, the minister and her team visited several tourist sites around the town, including the Blue Lake and Wayne’s World.
Proprietor of Wayne’s World, Wayne Rodrigues told DPI that he was happy and grateful for the visit and said he looks forward for government’s support to improve his business.
Chairman of the Regional Tourism Committee and MP, Devin Sears spoke with DPI about the visit.
“We are extremely elated and happy and thankful that the minister of tourism industry and commerce, along with the representatives from GTA made this trip, because many times, unless you see things, you don’t understand its value or what it’s worth and I believe that’s what this engagement was all about. We had a meeting earlier today of which we expressed some of our concerns and made suggestions moving forward.”
Deputy Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority Kamrul Baksh noted that the visit to Linden was part of a countrywide outreach being conducted to boost tourism development in Guyana.
He noted that it was an opportunity to formally meet the Region 10 Tourism Committee and the Linden beach committee to “define a way for tourism structurally here.”
Baksh said that there currently exists several attraction sites and tour operations in the region that could be further developed.
“What we want is for Region 10, not only Linden, but for the entire region, to be structurally developed, and to have a recognised and fully operational tourism circuit, so that’s why we are here to initiate the conversations and to formally give support to the tourism committee here,” Baksh Said.
He noted that the GTA will work more closely with the committee, in various ways including identifying relevant and key training to empower the people in the region.
And, while work was already done in hygiene and sanitation and delivering quality service, there will now be additional training in tour guiding, culinary and first aid, among others.
The GTA will also assist in developing tourism products in the region.
Baksh said he wants to also ensure that there are many options for visitors to enjoy. (DPI)