Executive Director of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) Maureen Paul believes that Guyana’s hosting of next year’s Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) provides the tourist industry with an important opportunity to promote the local tourist industry through the Heritage Tours that allow visitors to experience first hand the cultural diversity of the country.
In an interview with Stabroek Business earlier this week Paul advocated “more creative initiatives” on the part of the tourism sector to promote the “gems” of Guyana’s cultural heritage. “I feel sure that it would do the cultural profile of Guyana among visitors to the country a power of good if, for example, they were to be afforded the opportunity to witness some of the ceremonies that derive from our rich and diverse heritage,” Paul said.
In this regard the THAG Executive Director is advocating that hoteliers and tour operators consider pre-arranged tours for guests to witness events like ‘Queh Queh’ ceremonies and Diwali Parades accompanied by persons who can actually explain the significance of these events. She said that while there may be instances in which visitors can actually be a part of these events, there are other instances in which they may be allowed to witness them without becoming too intrusive.
Paul is also advocating the establishment of hospitality homes which, she said, had become commonplace in the tourism sectors in Europe and elsewhere, that would allow visitors to experience ordinary Guyanese life. “Appreciation for Guyana and its people can actually be enhanced if our visitors were afforded a genuine taste of our day to day life. The tourism sector needs to look at the way the industry has developed in other parts of the world and borrow those elements that are best suited to our circumstances,” Paul said.
According to Paul the development of a heritage dimension to Guyana’s tourism sector has to be attended by extensive training which is best undertaken by the Guyana Tourism Authority.