Interviews and photos by Dreylan Johnson and David Papannah
Question: Have you ever visited Kaieteur Falls or do you intend to visit? If you have, what was the experience like? If not, what has prevented you from visiting and what do you think can be done to make tourist destinations such as Kaieteur Falls more appealing to locals?
Carol Lyn Edwards (Teacher): ‘My only knowledge of Kaieteur is what I see in videos and hear on TV or when I see people I know sharing pictures of their visit to the falls. I would love to experience this myself but it is too expensive. I visit other countries and islands and get to see their exotic sites at a more affordable cost and it aches me that it is so difficult to experience my own country the same way. The cost should definitely be lowered and more promotions should be done. I must say the sign at Carifesta Avenue and Camp Road was a good idea. I did not know how to reserve to go to Kaieteur, but there isn’t enough information otherwise on what deals are available or promo trips. There should be things such as family packages for the July to August vacation, educational tours for schools, maybe for fifth formers—so that at least more Guyanese are given the opportunity to experience it at least once in their lifetime.’
Wendy Edwards (Nurse): `Yes, I want to go to the falls, but as a public servant it is not affordable. As a nurse whose salary is meagre it is difficult to have a visit to Kaieteur and still meet your monthly expenditure. There are Nurses’ Day/week, midwives day, teachers’ day etc. For these days, trips can be subsidized so that these public servants can have the opportunity to visit the falls.’
Adrian Papannah (Unemployed): `I never visited Kaieteur Falls and I never thought of visiting either, but I’ve heard people talking about how beautiful it is, so maybe one day I will visit. I do think the price to travel is a bit too much for Guyanese. We live right here and to visit should not be so expensive. The tourism authority should look at the price if they are thinking to promote local tourism.’
Dorrel Rajnarine (Carpenter): ‘I plan to visit Kaieteur Falls sometime in the future. I would visit the falls because it is the number one recommended tourist destination in Guyana. I have seen many documentaries on it by these foreign stations like the BBC. I also believe that the companies that fly to the falls should think about the Guyanese public and create special packages for them because I think many Guyanese would love to visit but because of the price they change their minds.’
Onika Munroe-Nials (Teacher): ‘I visited Kaieteur in 2013 and it was wonderful. I got awesome pictures. At that time there were no boundaries so I went way out. The walk to the falls was interesting too, the scenery was beautiful, I saw the tree frog…There were people bottling the water and drinking it. I think $35,000 is a lot for the tour. A way to make the tour more appealing to locals could be by offering discounts to groups, and for University of Guyana students and offices and so on. They could also offer locals the tour for US$100. I think usually other places offer discounts during off peak season.’
Romina Softleigh (Student): `Yes, to visit the Kaieteur Falls has been one of my many desires. I have never visited the falls because I find it a bit costly and many times I wonder what else is being offered besides transporting you there, walking you through the trail and have you stand to take pictures close to the falls. I think if the persons responsible for tourism did some more marketing and probably added a cool mascot, it would tickle the interest of more Guyanese. ‘
Teanne Alphonso: ‘I’ve never been to Kaieteur Falls, however I do plan on going as soon as they lower the price. I think that locals should get a reduced price and the tourists should pay more. Why should I pay so much to see a part of my own country? It’s ridiculous. I’d’ rather take that same money, put a little extra and take a trip out of the country.’
Keeona McKay (Student): `No, I haven’t been because I don’t have the finances to go right now, but I do think that locals should have special packages for tourist destinations given that tourist packages are quite expensive for the average Guyanese. This is because the prices are competing on the world tourism market and not just Guyana’s. Besides offering better special prices to encourage local tourism, transportation costs are always a big one so maybe better transportation service could be offered especially to interior locations. Also, different activities at various tourist destinations should be advertised and from time to time be improved upon.’
Usher Crawford (Electrician): `I love adventures so yes I will definitely visit maybe in a year or two, it just depends on the time and how my friends or family is available. I don’t think you can enjoy by going alone and good company is necessary on any adventure. In the meantime, I would encourage other Guyanese to visit Kaieteur Falls and see the beauty of the country.
They spend money and go to other countries but I think everyone needs to at least see what we have to offer. I don’t think the price to travel there is expensive but more can be done to have people visit not only Kaieteur but other places and the government should look at this since they are trying to sell tourism. When the local people visit local destinations they can be able to recommend it to their friends abroad resulting in foreign exchange coming into the country.’