Guyana can never become a tourist destination until the major problems are solved

Dear Editor,
The President went as far as Jamaica to promote his Marriott project and at the same time degrade Guyana’s hotels. What the President should know is that Guyana can never become a tourist destination until the country’s problems are solved.

Crime, police brutality, extra judicial killings, corruption, trumped up charges against government opponents, corruption, drug dealing, trafficking in persons, lack of cheap internal transportation, mosquitoes, stinking water from the mains, garbage collection, blackouts, beggars, street urchins are among other things that the government should solve before even thinking of boosting tourism.

The capital city stinks and all the stores are barricaded as if a war is about to start.

With the Internet around, prospective tourists have a tool to do research as to which country they will visit and what they expect to see. They look at their safety, emergency health problems and what they can see for their hard earned dollar. No tourist will come to Guyana just to be in a hotel room.

Many visitors that came to the Caribbean for the Cricket World Cup in 2007 refused to come to Guyana and instead chose to remain in the Caribbean islands until the matches in Guyana were finished as they did their research on Guyana and decided it was not a good place to visit.

Many hotels were built with false promises and now these investors are paying for their foolishness except the one that was partially built with taxpayers’ money and got the support of the government.

Taxpayers’ money lent to Buddy’s Hotel was supposed to be partially repaid to government by the government using the rooms but who can prove that the money was paid and how many rooms were occupied to pay off the loan?

The hotel was subsequently sold to foreigners with a sizeable profit for the owner. Did the taxpayers share in the profit of the sale?

Can the Auditor General tell the Guyanese nation how that loan to Buddy’s was repaid?

President Jagdeo told his audience in Jamaica that the Pegasus hotel and the Princess hotel, formerly Buddy’s do not meet the international standards to boost tourism and yet this same president was boasting about the Buddy’s hotel as a gem that can stand out internationally.

The President was also known to have supported his close friends to purchase the Pegasus but they lost out to the best bidder.

So what gives the President the right to bad mouth these two hotels in Jamaica? Is it the sour grapes syndrome?

The President said that the Marriott will be financed by the government of Guyana and four unnamed private investors and later the government’s shares will be sold to the private investors. Why should the government use taxpayers’ money to build a hotel and then sell it to the private investors? Who are these private investors? Why doesn’t the government sell its small percentage of shares in the Pegasus hotel?

Guyana does not need a Marriott Hotel. Government should take that money and build a first class medical facility so Guyanese would not have to travel to foreign countries for medical treatment, or improve the University of Guyana or invest in a national airline.

It is a disgrace to know that Guyana does not have a national airline and the President is talking about building another hotel to boost the tourism industry.

Any economist or accountant would tell you that another hotel, Marriott or Hilton or Sheraton in Guyana would be a failure financially, so why waste taxpayer’s money?

Yours faithfully,
Balwant Persaud

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