Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Brian Mullis does not believe that crime is discouraging tourists from visiting this South American nation because visitor figures continue to grow.
He says most of the crime seen is petty theft in the capital city, Georgetown, and must be placed in the proper context.
“I think we also acknowledge that most of the crime that is occurring is relegated to Georgetown. The interior is one of the safest places on the planet and there are very few instances that happen there and that’s where most of our leisure travelers are looking to,” he told a news conference.
Mullis said “exercising caution” should be routine in any part of the world.
The United States, Canada and Britain have from time to time cautioned their nationals about the prevalence of crime.
The GTA boasts that Guyana has been rated the world’s number one eco-tourism destination added to the fact that visitor arrivals have grown from 200,000 in 2013 to more than 286,000 in 2018.
Official figures also show that from January to May of this year, there was a nine percent growth over the corresponding period last year.
Government’s Department of Public Information (DPI) quoted Mullis as saying that every visitor spends roughly GYD$222,000 per person per trip.
“The net result is that travel and tourism as a sector injected approximately $62.6 billion directly into Guyana’s economy in 2018, that means that tourism is the second-largest export sector in the country after gold and ahead of rice,” Mullis said.
With such a large contribution to the Guyanese economy, the travel and tourism sector has contributed roughly 7.8% to the country’s overall GDP. In doing so, with its constant rise, the sector has also been creating thousands of jobs, according to Mullis.
“That drives directly, an approximate 8,500 jobs, that’s direct employment, and in terms of indirect and induced employment it’s a total of 22,000 jobs as estimated by the world travel and tourism council.”
Minister of Business and Tourism, Haimraj Rajkumar pointed out that while Guyana was not known for tourism, efforts by the government and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) has changed that, resulting in the significant increase in visitors to the country.
Minister Rajkumar, in alluding to the priority the government will be placing on tourism development, revealed that they will be pushing for more concessions to encourage more investment in the sector to meet the growing market demand coming from the travel and tourism sector.
Mullis highlighted that some of the upgrades he would like to see for the sector would be along the lines of vehicle upgrades in the form of more four-wheel drives which are eco-friendly, larger transit vehicles for larger groups, and incentives for expansion of existing lodges especially in the interior which is where most of the tourists tend to gravitate towards.
The GTA director also disclosed that most of these visitors come from the United States of America, Canada and the United Kingdom, while the GTA is investing in European Markets as a means of focusing on specific target groups with a predisposition for the type of tourism offered in Guyana.