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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 57,400 in 1999 to over 116,000 in 2005. Tourism receipts (or exports) amounted to over US$35 million in 2005. 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 recent construction of a modern convention centre and Guyana’s hosting of Cricket World Cup matches in 2007.
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 the Guyana 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. While Guyana has a growing room capacity (approximately 700 hotel rooms as of 2005, with 700 more under construction), further investment is needed to meet the demands of increased tourism arrivals, such as the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Business tourism services – Guyana’s status as the home of the CARICOM Secretariat, together with the completion of a new 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. In the short term, the 2007 World Cup matches will create a significant increase in the demand for crafts and souvenirs.
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.
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Contact InformationGuyana Tourism Authority
National Exhibition Center
Tel: 592 219 0094-6
Fax: 592 219 0093
Web: www.guyana-tourism.com www.guyanabirding.com