The blank stare and service without a smile attitude of many in the service and tourism sector of Guyana has seemingly not gone unnoticed by the Guyana government.
Acting President, Sam Hinds, filling in as the keynote speaker of the 13th annual Caribbean Tourism Organization's Sustainable Tourism Organization conference for former President Bharrat Jagdeo, told the less than 200 delegates gathered at the opening day today, that the country aims to set up a hospitality institute soon.
"We are working hard to improve"_"' said Hinds. "We will be focusing on developing a tourism culture to ensure a total country experience."'
Hinds gave no time line on the launch of such an institute but said it is recognized that the education of Guyanese, especially those working in the tourism sector, has to change, since they are the real natural resource of the sector.
He said the Guyana government has expanded its allocation of resources in its budget to focus more on promotion of the tourism sector, since they believe the country can become a leading sustainable tourism destination globally.He said there are plans underway to expand the Ogle Airport to ensure it can accept smaller jets, including LIAT planes, and t upgrade the Lethem Aerodrome to create a viable way to harness tourists between Guyana and Brazil.
Highlighting activities like sports fishing, the Surama Amerindian village in the Rupununi and tours of the rain forest, including Kaiteur, or as he put it: "the Niagara of the Caribbea,"' Hinds urged all Guyanese to work together for the preservation of the environment, including by keeping their surroundings clean and ensuring the Guyanese "Amazonian"' experience was truly enjoyed.
And to that end, Hinds said his government is hoping to promote the "'tri-South American' tourism package, where visitors can also visit Brazil, Suriname and Guyana. A road links a Brazil and Guyana currently, and he said there are talks betweeen the governments of Guyana and Suriname to link those two nations also by road. So far, Suriname Airways has resumed service to Guyana and vistors can also take a boat over to the neighboring nation from Guyana's Corentyne coast.
CTO Chairman Ricky Skerritt, for his part, urged delegates to look beyond the "awkwardness"' and see the host country as an example of a "case study in sustainable tourism."'
The conference continues on April 17th as delegates get to experience the real Amazon with tours to interior locations like Kaiteur, Orinduik, Iwokrama and Surama, Annai and Aranaputa.