The Guyana Festival: Getting the right outcomes

Nothing would please this newspaper more than an outcome to this weekend’s Guyana Festival that realizes all of the ambitions of the organizers including those that have to do with showcasing and hopefully finding markets for indigenous food and craft products and having large numbers of Guyanese and visitors to the country enjoy a taste of what the tourism sector has to offer and, better yet, come back next year.

And yet, whether the organizers are pleased or otherwise, it has to be said that there was an underpinning of lukewarmness to the run-up to the event. Apart from a few banners placed at strategic vantage points there was no particular evidence of the aggressive marketing of the event that had been promised. That would have set the tone and put both the visitors to the event and the performers and vendors in the right mood. People will probably find their way to Providence anyway though one has to wonder whether turning up at these kinds of events has not become more-or-less a knee jerk reaction.

Perhaps we need to look across the region to witness the energy, the drive, the creativity and the funding that goes in to marketing events like The Guyana Festival. Certainly, the promotional work becomes an enterprise that involves both the public and private sectors and taps into all of the various support institutions. In circumstances where there is an external market to be targeted there are usually specially designed and funded international marketing initiatives and all too often diplomatic missions are pressed into service.

Some of these things were promised by the organizers of the Guyana Festival and while this newspaper was assured that the country’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates abroad were involved in promoting the event, the effectiveness of their effort can only really be measured through some sort of post-event assessment. Where such an assessment is not done some people are bound to make derisory comments about its real purpose in the first place.

As an aside it is worth wondering whether the organizers of events of this kind are prepared to bite the bullet and provide adequate funding  for a structured  execution plan.

What makes the Guyana Festival important and what makes its success critical is the fact that it is being billed as an annual event around which hoped-for visitor arrivals will be built. That makes it all the more important that the organisers get it as right as possible this time around. People will only spend the great deal of money that they will have to shell out to come back next year if this year is worth the while.

In this context and having regard to the nexus between the Festival and visitor arrivals we believe that more could have been done to try to prepare the venue with more time to spare and to create an air of expectancy that would take people to Providence. There were apparent glitches in the preparations and this newspaper said so and it does not appear that the organizers were particularly happy over the fact that we called a spade a spade. This certainly does not mean that we do not fervently hope that there is maximum participation in the event and that the days are completely sold out. If that is the way it turns out then we will say so. We will call a spade a spade.

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