After years of lobbying for the updating of the marriage law to facilitate wedding tourism, the Roraima Group of Companies yesterday heard that its efforts could bear fruit by this time next year.
This was the message delivered at the opening of the 10th Wedding Expo yesterday at the Duke Lodge in Kingston, Georgetown, by Director General of the Department of Tourism Donald Sinclair. Sinclair informed attendees that the proposal was raised in discussion with the Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix, who related to him that the issue is at the Attorney General’s Chambers and he is expecting to see progress before the next year’s expo.
The Group’s Chief Executive Officer Captain Gerry Gouveia yesterday used the expo’s opening to make another call for the archaic laws on marriage to be changed in order to facilitate the promotion of wedding tourism.
“When the wedding expo started, we used the platform… to urge the government to change the archaic legislation that says people have to live here for two weeks to get married and we said to modernise it. The last few years, the Government of Guyana has done tremendous work to advance the cause and we are happy,” Gouveia said, while stating that it would make a tremendous difference if persons could come into the country to get married.
Gouveia also hailed the innovation of the businesses that were showcasing their exhibits at the expo and said that for the 10 long years that it has been running, “it is a win-win for all of us.”
“I recognised it, first of all, as a place where small businesses should have the opportunity to come and exhibit their product and services and allow their business to grow. We at Roraima recognised that there is a huge burden on our back to do it but it gave us great satisfaction in the last 10 years,” he said, while highlighting that over the last decade they have consistently had 50 to 60 different booths participating in the event, which shows the commitment to growth of small and medium-sized businesses.
Despite its consistent success over the years, Gouveia suggested that the ordinary businessmen and “even sometimes members of the government” do not understand how important the expo is as it related to opening up new tourism opportunity for the country, such as wedding and destination tourism.
“People leave and go to Jamaica to get married. People leave and go to the Dominican Republic to get married and those countries are beautiful but Guyana is amazing. Could you imagine getting married at Kaieteur Falls? Could you imagine getting married in Orinduik or the Rupununi or Arrow Point and Baganara? Young Guyanese living all over the world would love to come back home to get married,” Gouveia said.
Also speaking at the launch was Sinclair, who praised the innovation and involvement of the small businesses. He also used the occasion to challenge the organisers to have a “honeymoon booth,” where interested persons can see options around the country for honeymoon destinations.
Meanwhile, in the keynote address, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Country Manager Sophie Makonnen also commended the small and medium-size businesses for their participation, while noting that they all play vital roles in the country’s economy.
Makonnen said that the businesses that might not have a budget for marketing were using the event as a platform to market their products and services. She praised the businesses for their innovation and technological development over the years, which she said they have used to grow and adapt to the changing world of business.
The event will continue from 2pm to 11pm today and tomorrow. Admission to the public is free.