The Director-General of the Department of Tourism, Donald Sinclair on Thursday called for less rum-drinking and a greater focus on culture at festivals across Guyana’s ten administrative regions.
He issued the call at a regional tourism forum at which regional tourism committee representatives presented their reviews for 2019 and were informed about plans for 2020. “Too many festivals are just an excuse for rum drinking when they should be bringing out the cultural resources of the region and this is a weakness that some regional committees have acknowledged that the festivals need to change. The emphasis is on the party aspect, the rum drinking and so on,” he said.
Mr. Sinclair urged representatives of the ten committees to focus more on their culture at the various festivals, even as they seek to cash in on travel to the several destinations within Guyana. “Festivals must celebrate who you are, what you have, your cuisine, your culture, your practices. That is what the festival should celebrate,” the Director-General said.
In terms of other plans for 2020, Mr. Sinclair called on the regional administrative committees to focus on several areas including promotion, marketing, training of transportation operators, linking destinations with prospective visitors, identifying the required infrastructure for tourism destinations, writing convincing project proposals and examining sources of funds to realise their projects.
“All ten regions have products that you believe have potential so what you’ll be doing next year and what we’ll be doing with you is looking at your regions, looking at those products and see [sic] what are the areas that need strengthening,” said the Tourism Director-General. He agreed with one of the regional tourism committee representatives to invite their colleagues from other regions to participate. The tourism department official also recommended that formal structures for the regional tourism committees include elected officers, accountability systems, and other rules of procedures.
Mr. Sinclair said the focus should also include encouraging the diaspora and Guyanese at home to visit destinations and even hold family and school reunions there.
President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar notes that during Tourism Awareness Month, restaurants mainly in Georgetown have been seeing increased sales during Guyana Restaurant Week. With 23 restaurants participating this year, he notes that “it pushes intra-regional travel” with visitors coming to Georgetown “to experience the fine-dining experience”.
Guyana has been listed by Condé Nast Traveler magazine as one of the top 20 destinations for 2020.