When we sit back and think about tourism we imagine ourselves on the beach of a tropical island sipping a pina colada in our beach wear and straw hat, and breathing the fresh Atlantic air. Resorts in these islands have beach bars, beach rangers, a parking area, picnic area, garbage bins, lifeguards, no litter and everything in its place. Why can’t Guyana be like these well-developed Caribbean tourist spots? Is it the culture of the Guyanese people to be carefree and do what they feel like? Or is it that we lack cooperation and need to become more organized and work in unity to stand strong?
Right now Guyana doesn’t even have a full-time tourism minister, only an acting one, and I believe since the country has an abundance of tourist spots there is need for a new tourism minister to take full control. We want a neutral person in this post, not someone who will impede entrepreneurs who are trying to develop tourism. The 63 beach, one of Guyana’s main tourism hot spots and an international tourism destination needs great attention right now owing to the following:
1. The vast herd of cattle roaming the beach and creating havoc for years now has been trampling and eating away the vines that prevent the sand from eroding, and disturb the small dunes which are now appearing. This is effectively a breach of the sea defences, in addition to which cows on the beach is totally absurd and an eyesore. Legislation should be passed prohibiting cattle from 63 beach. Cows on a beach? Crazy.
2. There is no kind of durable sea defence for the beach. Whenever there are spring tides they lash the few sandbanks that exist and even create channels through abandoned watermelon gardens to reach the roadside. No one has been addressing this except me and when there is high tide the people in the area come to the beach to see whose house is going to be affected by the flood first, and laugh amongst themselves instead of addressing a situation that needs immediate attention from the government. Number 7 beach West Berbice, for example, has a rock sea defence which has a natural look and conserves the beauty of the environment.
3. There are key roads which access 63 beach and which need to be refurbished. The main beach entrance road is dilapidated and covered with mud, with deep large ponds that swallow vehicles. This is the way tourists are being welcomed to 63 beach. The 62 mid-point access road needs to be rehabilitated for the purpose of less congestion at the 63 main road, and as a way to help visitors left marooned in the middle of the beach. This road is abandoned with overgrown bushes and muddy potholes whenever the tide is high, and both the 63 entrance and 60 exit are engulfed by the river. This 62 access road also lies adjacent to my father’s Sunsplash Resort on 63 beach. Is this the reason it is not being repaired? Wouldn’t access to this resort on 63 beach benefit the public with employment and tourists with recreational facilities? We are imprisoned when the tide is high. Why should people come and invest in Guyana if they are being victimized? The 60 exit is in really bad condition as well, with potholes throughout its length and people dumping garbage alongside it. Is this the way we embrace tourism and show off our country? People will not stand their vehicles being wrecked.
4. There is need for a new beach management committee. The public sees this committee and other actors involved as non-functioning. The Upper Corentyne Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UCCCI) has been working hand in hand with the beach committee. The UCCCI is not really doing a great job with the US$14000 they collected from USAID to develop the beach. I have been advocating that they should introduce beach rangers to slap a fine on people caught littering so others will observe and will not do the same. Legislation has to be passed and the money from fines can be used to keep the beach intact. Signboards and television ads are not enough; you need people out there to go and do some work and they have the money to pay rangers. A beverage manager even said it made no sense to place signs and no garbage bins. At last I must say the beach committee and UCCCI lack cooperation towards investors on the beach and do not appear to want young innovative minds to be part of their groups, since I was excluded from their affairs and withdrew. What a way of not working together to build a brighter future in tourism.
According to Chandana Jayawardena’s book Caribbean Tourism for Today and Tomorrow, “…community tourism offers great opportunities for national development since it promotes involvement by all meaningful enterprises that would generate income and foreign exchange, create a greater awareness of their society and culture, while encouraging meaningful interactions between host communities and visitors.” This is a great comment, but do we have cooperation in Guyana or is everyone fighting for fame and money and is playing the crabs in a barrel game? Also why are we working with a top-down bureaucratic approach, ie, government and agencies play the boss while we entrepreneurs have to just listen and don’t even get involved in the show.
These people in charge don’t even want to listen to your ideas, but steal them and don’t include you in the show acting as if it was their idea. Why is the PPP playing boss over the 63 beach? Why don’t other parties and groups come out and start improving it? If we want to develop Guyana tourism we must allow all persons interested to get involved and delegate tasks to them such as research, projects, planning events, etc. A great deal of improvement is needed for 63 beach, and if it happens I envisage a brand new look with people relaxing under beach umbrellas, yacht boat rides for guests to and fro along the Atlantic, a new 63 beach regatta with visitors having fun, frolicking in the sun and engaging in various activities. The beach has potential; we just need to work cooperatively, become more organized and get the extra push.
Ebony Narpatty (Brijbassi)