Hospitality is the bedrock of tourism. It drives the industry. Many Caribbean economies depend heavily on tourism, selling their year-round summer, sparkling blue waters, ‘life is a party’ image mainly to people in bleak climes.
But must rely on the human factor – hospitality. No amount of sun, sand and sea will draw paying tourists to a hostile environment.
Guyana has no white crystal beaches and the water is certainly not clear and blue, the sun overlooks not a sea of blue but a vast green ocean that clashes with the brown in the North. Guyana lacks the typical tourism package we come to recognise in the Caribbean but it is a tourism destination for the future.
The South American-Anglo Caribbean state sports its own brand eco-tourism. Numerous rivers and streams, towering vines on tropical trees in a dense rainforest with unknown creatures lurking on land and in the sparkling streams; waterfalls and abundant biodiversity.
Guyana’s spot on the South-American continent is advantageous to attract the not so far Caribbean, the North American and European states. It offers a Caribbean vibe that is far from the typical Caribbean with a mixture of Amazonia.
Guyana can boast of its forests and savannahs, waterfalls and mountains, culture and the arts. Guyana can boast of being the eco-tourism wonderland of the Caribbean and can offer adventures and experiences far better than the typical sun and sand. So why then are tourists not flocking to enjoy what’s on offer?
The answer is simple; Guyana has not attained the Caribbean level of hospitality. There is simply because of a lack of appreciation and pride by its people.
The state of the city is a perfect example of this, an inhospitable environment; unwelcoming. The garbage, rude customer service, lawless society and rowdy public transportation (just to name a few) leave us at a distinct disadvantage in the competition for tourism dollars.
It is a shame to see a country with such unlimited resources and unique potential unable to sell itself as the paradise vacation destination it can be.
Plans for birding, wedding, medical and other forms of tourism will remain as plans. Tour guides will continue to scope out what’s on offer, but will be unable to send the droves of spending tourists to really make a difference.
Guyana needs to reinvent itself and educate its people. This is not a new argument, of course. But it bears repeating. It is not enough to simply say ‘we are a hospitable people’; we need to show it. Guyana has to get its hospitality in order for its tourism to soar.