Tourism ministry wants private sector to adopt parts of city

As it eyes a surge in the number of tourists coming here, the Ministry of Tourism (MoT) says it will try to have the private sector adopt parts of the capital city and clean up the filth.

“The city has been a source of embarrassment for the government and people of Guyana …the management of the city has been atrocious. We are looking to have members of the private sector sponsoring or adopting sections of the city, in the medium term, to bring it to a level of respect and cleanliness while the city resolves the management crisis,” said acting Minister of Tourism Irfaan Ali yesterday.

Irfaan Ali
Irfaan Ali

He was at the time speaking at a press briefing at the Tourism Ministry boardroom, South Road, where he also highlighted key initiatives which the MoT will be implementing in the first quarter of this year.

“We will definitely have to focus heavily on cleaning the city, especially in the first quarter.

We can’t be promoting these initiatives to bring people into the country to have a city like that, especially at Mash time,” he stated.

City Hall and the opposition have repeatedly accused government of starving the municipality of the required funds and refusing to approve initiatives to generate revenue.

However, government has insisted on the municipality stripping itself of a huge wage bill while at the same time aggressively collecting huge outstanding debts from residents and businesses.

At a recent breakfast meeting, the Private Sector Commission was asked by the media why it has not been advocating that the government utilise the environmental tax it has been collecting on plastic bottles since 1995 to help clean up the city. The PSC said it would further consider the matter.

Visitors to Guyana are often very critical of the filthy state that the capital especially is in.  While Guyana was last year the host of the Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Conference, some participants even raised the issue with President Donald Ramotar and he said it would be addressed.

When the participants left these shores they said that it was with perplexing reactions about the contrasting conditions of Guyana’s environment- a garbage strewn capital and a pristine rainforest.

The seemingly nonchalant attitudes towards littering by residents angered one of the executives of The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), who said that they have complained bitterly about the condition of Georgetown. “We continue to complain about the garbage issue because everyone knows it’s a problem but we can’t come out and say to tourists look we are sorry for what you see, we (are) just a damn nasty people,” he lamented.

Since the main streets of the capital city are heavily traversed during Mashramani, the Minister of Tourism said that his ministry will soon be working with the private sector to develop the adoption-of-an-area strategy.

For the Mashramani celebrations, Guyana plans to make it enticing to its immediate and Caribbean neighbours such as Suriname, Brazil and Trinidad, among others.

Ali assured that the garbage collaboration plan with the private sector initiative is not an effort to sideline the city council but just the MoT being proactive.  “We are not sidelining the city council.

The  council has been part of the initiatives …it is time you move on beyond the politics and beyond the management issue …we can’t want to sit back and say ‘Clean the City’ and then you  don’t want to take the bold initiative.

You have to, you have to take the bold initiative and provide leadership,” he said.

“You have to work with those who are willing to do the work and ensure you have a city that is clean beyond politics and beyond management … We will have to have that partnership with the private sector,” he added.

In addition to the garbage clean up and sustainable plan, Ali informed that his ministry’s 2013 plan would be to sustain the arrival rate, ensure that occupancy in hotels countrywide grows and create demand of local products with a focus on improving the service industry.

One marketing strategy would be to attract films documentaries and travel writers to use their mediums in selling this destination. “We have them come into Guyana, on fact trips on their own, to do a lot of PR (Public Relations) work for us to ensure that brand Guyana gets out there.

As it pertains to improvement of the service industry, Ali said that there will be a partnership between the Carnegie School of Home Economics to make employees in this sector better able to deal with their clientele. “In December we had a lot of complaints in terms of the level of service at hotels, restaurants and so on …there is a shortage of the qualified staff in this area and there is a lot of hedging and head hunting between competitors in the sector itself for the few staff that is out there …We want to work with the Carnegie school developing a special programme that would target the service staff,” he said.

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