By Andrea De Caires
In 1994 when Wilderness Explorers opened its doors, tourism was an unknown word. There were only a handful of tour operators in all of Guyana.
The founder of the company, Mr. Tony Thorne was also the first President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana. Twenty four years later, as a leader in the Tourism industry in Guyana, Wilderness Explorers is boldly relaunching its brand, as a Destination Management Company [DMC]. The first and only Destination Management Company in Guyana.
A Destination Management Company (DMC) is a professional services company with extensive local knowledge, expertise and resources, working in the design and implementation of tours, events, activities, transportation and logistical programming.
Wilderness Explorers has recently completed a comprehensive restructuring of the company, as it modernizes operations to adjust to the evolving tourism industry, whilst retaining its commitment to providing exceptional customer service at an international standard. The company promises to promote ecologically sensitive tourism through a responsible and concerned attitude towards the environment.
Wilderness Explorers has a strong commitment to developing tourism in Guyana. It consistently provides training programmes in collaboration with other agencies such as the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), the Ministry of Tourism (MOT), and in partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs to identify and support new community involvement in tourism.
Wilderness Explorers has been a leader in the development of new products, in particular with Community Owned and Operated Tourism, which they introduce to the international tourism market. The company prides itself on its partnership with indigenous communities who are interested in developing their tourism product. Together they work closely from the beginning when these are just emerging products, supporting the community through the development process to create a position in the international marketplace. Wilderness Explorers was the first company to work with Surama Village, as far back as 1999, now an internationally recognized model of community owned and operated tourism.
Wilderness Explorers is a fervent supporter in Partnerships as a vehicle to build business and drive sales. The philosophy is to create a working environment that allows each partner to utilize their skills and experience, especially when they complement each other. In addition to successfully partnering with the government and GTA on various projects, they are active members of the Latin American Travel Association (UK), Adventure Travel Trade Association (USA) and a founding member of ATLAS, a consortium of Latin American DMC’s. As a market leader in innovative and creative marketing strategies, Wilderness Explorers places a stronger emphasis on cooperative marketing. The company has invested heavily in marketing, through attending well over 100 trade and consumer shows in North America, the Caribbean, Latin America, UK, Europe and Australia. Wilderness Explorers also operates familiarization tours to Guyana for both the travel trade and the media, to build a global awareness of destination Guyana.
Much of the company’s strength is gained from having a sole focus on the tourism industry, which allows minimal distractions from building product and marketing Guyana. Whilst this is a Guyanese company with an international market, the focus has been broadened to be a regional DMC, with an already strong product in Suriname, French Guiana and the Caribbean. The company boasts strong local, regional and international networks in the industry and has built network representatives in the UK, Australia, North America, the Nordic region and the German speaking market.
The tourism industry is developing globally at an incredible rate and consumers buying patterns are changing just as rapidly. Wilderness Explorers has responded with an internal restructuring that adapts the company to the new demands and opportunities. Within 3 months they will have a new website that performs across all platforms followed by a renewed marketing strategy, that will service traditional channels and open completely new avenues of sales. As a DMC, Wilderness Explorers acts as a safety net for tour operators and customers, ensuring smooth and safe travel and importantly an agent to solve problems and deal with emergencies. As regulatory requirements increase within the industry Wilderness Explorers is uniquely positioned to be able to deal with the complicated and stringent health and safety requirements and being able to provide an international level of insurance to safeguard customers.
Andrea De Caires is President the Tourism & Hospitality Association of Guyana