Guyana’s unspoiled beauty, unique cultural heritage and natural attractions make it an ideal destination for tourists. As opposed to the sun and sand tourism product offered by many of its Caribbean neighbors, Guyana offers a distinct product—vast open spaces, savannahs, virgin rainforests, mountains, huge rivers and waterfalls, the most famous of which is the majestic Kaieteur Falls, known to be the highest single drop waterfall in the world and five times taller than Niagara Falls. Guyana also boasts abundant wildlife, numerous species of flora, a variety of fauna and spectacular birdlife. These sites are accessible by land, air and river and are served by high-quality eco-resorts in the interior. The capital, Georgetown, is well known for its picturesque, tree-lined avenues, bustling markets, and wooden buildings, including the renowned St. George’s Cathedral, reportedly the world’s tallest wooden building.
Guyana’s tourism industry is experiencing a period of dynamic investment and growth. Visitor arrivals have grown from 116,596 in 2012 to 176,642 in 20125. Tourism receipts (or exports) amounted to over US$98.7 million in 2012. With worldwide growth in adventure, cultural and eco-tourism, Guyana’s appeal as an alternative to the standard Caribbean sun and sand destination is underscored by its market niches such as bird watching, sport fishing and yachting. At the same time, there are numerous opportunities resulting from the construction of many hotels including Choices Hotel chain and the Marriott just to name a few. With increase visitor arrival, increase hotel rooms comes the expansion of our international airport (CheddieJagan International Airport) and improve status of our domestic airport (Ogle International Airport)
Recognizing the potential of Guyana’s tourism product and the likely economic impact of a dynamic tourism sector, Guyana’s government and private sector leaders have taken a number of steps to facilitate the development of this sector. Tourism was included as a priority under the country’s National Development Strategy. Developments include the formation of a Ministry, together with the appointment of a Minister responsible for tourism, the introduction of a Tourism Studies Unit at the University of Guyana, the establishment of theGuyana Tourism Authority (GTA), and the formation of the private sector Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) (see supporting organizations below). The Government also provides the industry with support through national efforts to market Guyana as a tourist destination, including the innovative creation and airing of video commercials to showcase tourism attractions on regional airlines, as well as attractive incentives for investments in new or expanded facilities and services.
While enormous tourism potential exists, there is an ongoing need for investments that develop and upgrade the facilities and services that make up Guyana’s tourism product. Since the tourism sector is still in the early stages of development, current investors can benefit from ‘first mover’ status and the choice of diverse investment opportunities:
- Existing attractions and activities – There are opportunities for investments that improve Guyana’s existing tourism products and attractions. These include the development of the Kaieteur Park area as a major tourist destination, recreational facilities and activities (e.g. rafting, boating, tennis, horseback riding and golf), and accommodations (e.g. eco-lodges or resorts) in the interior.
- Niche market products – Aside from the current adventure and eco-tourism products that Guyana offers, opportunities exist for the development of niche tourism markets and the services to support these new markets. For example, there is a need for investments in the infrastructure, facilities and services to support market segments such as bird watching, yachting and deep-sea or river fishing.
- Hospitality services in Georgetown – There are ongoing opportunities for investments in new hotels and restaurants able to meet the demands of discriminating international tourists and business people. Business tourism services – Guyana’s status as the home of the CARICOM Secretariat, together with the convention centre, presents opportunities for investors to develop business services (e.g. convention services, catering, VIP transport, communications, etc.) targeting international business people, multilateral organizations and non-governmental organizations.
- Transportation services – As Guyana’s tourism industry grows, there is an increasing need to expand the availability of tourism-related transportation services. In particular, this includes an expansion of scheduled and chartered air services to and from Guyana, as well as boat and car rental services.
- Craft Industry – Guyana has several established craft shops, but increased interest and demand for these crafts provide opportunities to expand production.
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), part of MinTIC, is responsible for promoting the development of Guyana’s tourism industry. Among other functions, the GTA is entrusted with designing and marketing tourism strategies on behalf of the Government. It is also responsible for the regulation of standards to be maintained by all industry participants.
The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) represents the interests of private enterprises working within the sector, and is an umbrella body for all tourism related entities. Members include hoteliers, resort owners, tour operators, travel agents, restauranteurs, jewelry and craft shop owners, and transportation services providers. It partners with the Government in developing and expanding many vital aspects pertinent to the tourism industry, including generic marketing, the positioning of individual members in local, regional and international markets, as well as introducing and maintaining the highest industry standards.
Developments in Tourism Industry: Boosting Guyana’s Image as a Caribbean Destination
Construction of the Marriott Hotel
Guyana is growing as a destination that attracts business travelers as well as ecotourism enthusiast. There is the need for more hotels in Guyana, moreso, internationally branded hotels: and as such the Government along with private partners have decided to undertake the construction of the Marriott Hotel. This 165 room hotel and Casino will cater to the business traveler as well as those travelers who just want to enjoy the gate way to South America.
New International airport: Expanding Travel in Guyana
With increase tourist travel over the years, the government has seen the need to make provision for the growing number of visitors arriving daily.