Some participants have left the 13th Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC) with perplexing reactions about the contrasting conditions of Guyana’s environment- a garbage strewn capital and a pristine rainforest.
The Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hugh Riley would only say that “we did the best job that we could under the circumstances to make sure that the conference was perfect” as he steered away from pronouncing definitively on the state of the city. He informed that the CTO would prefer to await the outcome of feedback on the city and by extension the overall conference through the completion of hard-copy and online evaluation forms.
He assured that the CTO would share the findings of the feedback with the Guyana government with the aim of helping the country plan for the future as it pertains to tourism development here. “We’ll see what areas need to be improved and we will share that information with our host country and we will use that information to improve our next experience,” he said.
Riley was brimming with confidence about the return of STC to Guyana some time in the future when asked by Stabroek News if he anticipated that the conference would return here for a third time since its existence. The next confab will be held in Trinidad and Tobago.
The CTO boss noted that the feedback from participants about the study tours to places like the Teperu-Itabu quarry and Iwokrama was great.
However in the conference rooms at the Guyana International Conference Centre, several participants complained bitterly about garbage seen in several areas of the city and on the Georgetown/East Coast Demerara seawall.
For his part, Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Indranauth Haralsingh admitted that marketing Guyana and in particular Georgetown is a tough job when prospective tourists ask about the garbage situation. “For me, I would not be able to tell them anything. It’s there, the evidence is there and when people look at the city- a dirty city reflects a dirty mind, it reflects on all of us,” he said.
While Guyanese have an individual responsibility to avoid littering, the GTA boss blamed the Georgetown Municipality for largely failing to scrub the city of garbage before and during STC-13 which started on Sunday and ended on Wednesday.
“There were a lot of good efforts to tidy up the city but I don’t think the City Council was very willing to participate in this clean-up campaign,” he told Stabroek News.
The GTA plans to work with other partners to clean up the city and embark on education and awareness.
An executive from The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) 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.”
President Donald Ramotar, asked how his government hoped to address the contradiction between a dirty city and pristine interior, acknowledged that it is a problem and that government was actively addressing it.
“We are tackling it, we are looking at other technologies that we can use and looking at recycling,” he said. Government, he added, has been talking with companies that want to establish waste recycling plants here in exchange for tax-free concessions.
The Georgetown City Council has repeatedly said it has been hamstrung by a lack of funds.