Inclusion, social and economic development, remain key priorities of the Government – Minister Walrond

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Hon. Oneidge Walrond says the Government has embarked on a deliberate policy of inclusion, aimed at delivering broad-based benefits, which increase opportunities for a wide cross section of Guyanese. Minister Walrond was at the time speaking during a reception hosted by United States Ambassador, Sarah-Ann Lynch on Monday, in recognition of World Tourism Day.

Minister Walrond stressed that tourism is one of the sectors on which the government has placed a strategic focus for the diversification of Guyana’s economy. 

She noted that while COVID-19 was devastating, the pandemic also imposed a practical necessity for the government to implement strategic measures which coincidentally served to demonstrate the feasibility of fundamentally changing the way we operate. 

“These measures included limiting numbers, operating in open spaces and moving services online to reduce interpersonal contact among others.   Without these measures we could not have hoped to ride out the pandemic in the way we did and continue to do,” she explained. 

Minister Walrond added that COVID-19 also provided a platform for greater revelation of how the tourism sector could be more effectively run and how the country could leverage the uniqueness of our product. She noted that COVID-19 highlighted the correlation between tourism and the environment, which challenged pre-pandemic attitudes in many respects. 

“The pandemic experience constituted a powerful enabler and driver of change and it is this driving force that is behind the call for “Re-thinking Tourism,” Minister Walrond told the audience.

She reflected that the need to rethink tourism was conceptualized several years ago by various organizations, including the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations, with emphasis on developing policies for sustainable and inclusive growth.

“The calls for sustainability and inclusion resonate with us here in Guyana, since these objectives are at the very centre of our development policies in all sectors,” she posited.

The minister pointed out that several themes evolved from the concept of re-thinking of tourism. These themes, which the minister reiterated are all relevant to Guyana, include a focus on communities, digital and contactless processing, and rural development through tourism.  The minister stressed that the Government’s interventions throughout the pandemic have in varying degrees, been broadly reflective of these trends. 

Minister Walrond also spoke in detail about another emerging trend in re-thinking tourism, which is the emphasis on ensuring wider economic and social impact from tourism.  Pointing out that her ministry has supported tourism development efforts and small business development in all regions of Guyana, Minister Walrond emphasized that the Government’s commitment to inclusion is manifested in programmes in every sector.

“With respect to social and economic development, for us, inclusion means that the services that we deliver and the programmes we implement must benefit all Guyanese.  And this means all Guyanese regardless of who they are, where they live, their ethnic origin, their political persuasion or any other characteristic by which anyone may seek to classify and compartmentalize us, Minister Walrond noted. 

Speaking about tourism in particular, Minister Walrond drew a nexus between Guyana’s bid for the hosting of the Caribbean League and the Government’s commitment to inclusion, social and economic development.

“Our commitment to securing the rights to the CPL finals was part of our strategy for inclusive development.  We had our sights set not only on the primary revenue streams associated with the cricket itself, but also on capturing wider benefits that such an event could bring to a broad cross section of ordinary people in many sectors.   Indeed, this was the primary motivation for the twinning of cricket with carnival,” Minister Walrond explained.

She emphasized that the Cricket Carnival was also hosted to ensure that there were opportunities for meaningful participation by small, medium and microenterprises, including the individual sole proprietor. 

Minister Walrond said that in a similar vein to CPL, the government plans to consistently bring several major events each year to our shores. The vision, she added, is for a sustainable tourism industry that will be one of the pillars of our economy delivering security and prosperity for all Guyanese.  World Tourism Day 2022 was celebrated under the theme “Re-thinking Tourism”.

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