More than 620 visitors to Guyana during the festive season were treated to a traditional ‘Christmas welcome’ hosted at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri on December 19 in collaboration with the Ministry of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority.
Minister of Tourism Manniram Prashad welcomed the visitors from two Caribbean Airlines and a LIAT flight, to accompaniment provided by a masquerade band. Santa Claus was also on hand to greet child travellers. According to GINA, visitors were treated to a taste of Guyanese black cake, sweets, plantain and sweet potato chips, ginger beer and Banks DIH products. Books of short stories and poems by Guyanese writers were also given to children.
“I appreciate it and it made me smile,” New York-based Norman Goodchild, who is spending Christmas in Guyana for the first time in six years, said. He noted that it was a true welcome for him and it brought back a lot of memories. New York-based Ann Pereira said, “It is fabulous. It makes you feel happy to be home.”
In his address to the media the minister said that visitors were happy for the warm welcome. He added that the initiative was an effort to display Guyanese hospitality and the ministry is pleased with the response. “Guyana is the place to come to,” he said. Prashad also noted that all flights coming to Guyana this season are fully booked and both Delta Airlines and Caribbean Airlines have booked additional flights.
The minister said he is confident that arrivals for this year will surpass 2009 which recorded a nine per cent increase over 2008. According to a Caribbean Tourism Organisation report only four countries: Guyana, Cuba, Jamaica and Saba, registered an increase in arrivals last year with Guyana recording the highest numbers.
Prashad said ‘Guyana – the Amazon Adventure’ is a choice destination and many young persons are coming home to visit as well. He noted that a number of mega events are set for this season countrywide to ensure that visitors are entertained. The ‘I am OK’ concert held last Saturday by Conscious Minds Promotion is one such event and Hits and Jams will be hosting a concert on Christmas Day with international R&B artist Ashanti and Jamaican artists Jah Cure and Konshens. The much-anticipated Main Big Lime and the Kashif and Shanghai football tournament are also expected to draw huge crowds.
According to the release representatives from Banks DIH, the Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company and Digicel were part of the welcoming party that greeted the travellers.
The exercise will be hosted until Christmas Eve Day.