Guyana was the biggest winner at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation/ Travelmole Sustainable Tourism Award ceremony, which was held in Trinidad and Tobago during the fourteenth Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC14). This is the third consecutive year that Guyana has won the top award at the STC and the second year it gained three awards.
A release from the Government News Agency (GINA) said that of the six nominations submitted, the country received three awards – the premium, Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award, won by Karanambu Lodge of the Rupununi, the Biodiversity Conservation Award, given to the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society and the Heritage Award, conferred on the National Trust of Guyana.
Jamaica won two awards – Best Sustainable Tourism Accommoda-tion which was awarded to Tryall Club and Villas and the Community Benefit Award which went to Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association. The remaining award which was introduced this year, the Destination Stewardship award was won by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company.
GINA said that acting Minister of Tourism Irfaan Ali congratulated the winners who he said have worked hard to ensure that their businesses and practices fit into the country’s overall sustainable development agenda.
Minister Ali said that the fact that Guyana won three of the six awards at the STC 14 is proof that Guyana’s product is the strongest and this sends an important message to the international community and groups of tourists looking for eco-adventure, nature, adventure, and sustainable tourism that the haven for sustainable tourism resides in Guyana.
He pointed out that with this added recognition, the country can move forward on the progressive frontier of advancing its eco-tourism product and remaining the most outstanding sustainable tourism destination in the Region.
Ali noted that this year’s awardees all fit the very strict criteria of ensuring that their product is sustainable, that they protect and integrate the environment in the development of their product.
The other three nominees from Guyana were all finalists and received honourable mentions – Conservation International (CI) Guyana for the Destination Stewardship Award; Community and Tourism Services Ltd. (Guyana) which operates Atta Rainforest Lodge at the Iwokrama Canopy walkway, for the Sustainable Accommodation Award and Aranaputa community tourism in the North Rupununi, for the Community Benefit Award.
The STC14 gathered tourism experts, stakeholders and media operatives from throughout the Caribbean Region and further afield under the theme “Keeping the Right Balance: Enhancing destination sustainability through products, partnerships and profitability” from April 15-18. It was organised jointly by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and the Sustainable Tourism Organisation.
GINA said that the Guyanese representatives include the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Indranauth Haralsingh and GTA’s Marketing Officer, Nadine King also participated in the twenty-second ordinary meeting of the Sustainable Tourism Development Technical Committee; where the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Work Programme for 2013 and other key developments were discussed.
The release said that key among the issues discussed was Guyana’s proposal and offer of land for the establishment of a Caribbean Sustainable Development Institute which was made to the CTO at the Caribbean Week in New York, last June. The committee welcomed the offer and proposed that feasibility be conducted, while the concept, function and mandate of the proposed Institute are being worked on.
According to Haralsingh, Guyana is the ideal place for such an institute since there is potential to develop and promote agro tourism. Guyana possesses an excellent track record in employing best practices in sustainable development, a solidified position as leaders in climate change and standing forests advocacy.
The conference also included activities such as a special presentation by Guyana, workshops, exhibitions, a cultural extravaganza, a Stakeholders’ Speak Out and the Sustainable Tourism Awards.