Days after stating that the Ministry of Tourism has been dissolved, government Tuesday night assured that tourism has not been put on the ministerial back burner but has instead been twinned with Public Telecommunications.
However, a tourism industry stakeholder still believes that the sector will not be given the required attention given the burdensome nature of telecommunications.
The National Frequency Management Unit (NFMU)-which is responsible for the allocation of spectrum for radio, television, satellite, two-way communication radios and other wireless communications- has been taken away from Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and handed to Cathy Hughes who is now Minister of Public Telecommunications and Tourism. “The portfolio for Public Information remains with Prime Minister the Honourable Moses Nagamootoo,” said Imran Khan, Director of Public Information in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The Guyana government on January 1, 2016 and Monday, January 4, 2015 had stated that the Ministry of Tourism had been dissolved and that Hughes would have been the Minister of Public Telecommunications and minister responsible for tourism.
Reacting to “publicly expressed concerns” by tourism industry stakeholders, the Director of Public Information clarified, saying that “the tourism portfolio remains in full effect and has been twinned with the public telecommunications portfolio.” He said the ministry would now be known as the Ministry of Public Telecommunications and Tourism.
“The tourism sector remains a high-level priority focus area for the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Minister Hughes will continue her work in building and strengthening this sector and positioning Guyana as one of the world’s leading eco-tourism destinations,” said Khan.
Former President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Gerry Gouveia, who had earlier Tuesday railed against the announced dissolution of the Tourism Ministry, told Demerara Waves Online News Tuesday night that he still was not pleased with the way that the tourism industry was being treated.
Gouveia chided government for sending mixed signals and back-pedaling on the autonomy of the tourism ministry that would have had its own specialized staff and responsibilities, budgetary allocation and agenda. Now, Gouveia is worried that Minister Hughes, despite being competent, would be distracted by the major responsibility of telecommunications. “It diminishes the importance of tourism. I don’t know what that means but the Minister of Tourism will be distracted with this very major responsibility because telecoms is going to be the future.
The former THAG President said he wanted to see how much money would be allocated to tourism development and the type of staff that would be recruited for that industry.
Under the last People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC)-led administration up to when it was defeated at the May 11, 2015 general and regional elections, Irfan Ali had been Minister of Housing and Water and Minister of Tourism.