Last Updated on Friday, 11 July 2014, 3:35 by GxMediaGuyana has waived visa requirements for several Latin American countries in an effort to boost trade and transportation links while at the same time strengthen its security, Foreign Affairs Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett announced.
“Off course, we are strengthening our security apparatus as well because concomitant with more people moving, you need to strengthen your security as well,” she said.
In response to a request by COPA Airlines, she said Guyana has scrapped visa requirements for Peru, Panama and Costa Rica. Guyana already has visa-free arrangements with Argentina, Ecuador and Brazil.
She was at the time addressing a reception to mark COPA Airlines’ entry to the Guyana market with twice-weekly flights to its hub in Panama with connections to the rest of the Americas.
While officials of COPA Airlines and the Guyana government believe that passengers would experience less hassle travelling to South and Central American countries, the Foreign Minister said increased travel would require more accommodation. “We need suitable accommodation and this is why the Marriott Hotel is so important and many, many more hotels would be important if we are to expand our tourism and other services,” he said.
Latest figures show that air transport accounts for 40 percent of international trade.
COPA’s Regional Sales Manager for North America, Diego Bermudez Parra said the carrier decided to fly to Guyana – initially twice weekly- because market research shows that the country has a lot of potential. “Our research has shown us that a lot of Guyanese business people and travelers from the rest of the world would fly via Panama to get to Guyana and our decision to enter the local market was based on these figures and potential increases in traffic,” he said.
Assuring that COPA was in Guyana to stay and was not a seasonal airline here to make profit, Bermudez said there was scope to expand the tourism sector that has been limited North Americans. In Guyana we see an opportunity for the expansion of the local tourism sector, previously limited, by North American connections, we now offer opportunities with much easier connections,” he said.
Bermudez said Guyanese would no longer have to fly all the way to the United States or spend more than half a day in a foreign terminal waiting for connections to take you to countries that you share borders with.