The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), in collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DoT), held a roundtable discussion on Thursday with editors of the local media aimed at crafting a new relationship.
“We need to take control over the narrative, as there is a danger of being branded by others as we’ve never actively branded Guyana ourselves,” Dominic Gaskin, Minister of Business with responsibility for tourism told the gathering, according to a release from the GTA.
“The image of our country transcends the tourism sector and it is a shared responsibility to paint a more positive image of Guyana”, he told the forum.
Senior Editors from media houses such as the Guyana Chronicle, Stabroek News, Kaieteur News, Newsroom Guyana, HGPTV-Channel 67 among others participated in the forum with the Minister of Business; Director General of the Department of Tourism, Donald Sinclair; Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, Brian Mullis; President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana, Mitra Ramkumar, General Manager of Wilder-ness Explorers, Andrea de Caires; and members of the tourism private sector, Kit Nascimento and Gem Madhoo-Nascimento.
One of the primary drivers for Thursday’s meeting had been the cancellation of a planned yachting rally in Guyana’s waters following local and international media reports about a piracy attack off of Suriname in April this year that left around 12 Guyanese missing and feared dead.
The 6th International Nereid’s Rally had been on schedule for the 13th September to be hosted at Hurakabra River Resort by the Nascimentos. It suffered a sudden, short notice withdrawal of 11 yachts from the widespread domestic and international publicity given to the attack in Suriname waters. Stabroek News Editor-in-Chief Anand Persaud told the forum that government ministries and tourism bodies had done a very poor job in disseminating information to the public that could have helped to make it clear that there was no threat to yachters as a result of the April attack off of Suriname.
The GTA release on Thursday said that discussions highlighted the role tourism plays in the media; the role the local, international and social media and the GTA play in creating the best possible public image of the country and the importance of the GTA and DoT in keeping the media informed about current and planned initiatives in the tourism sector.
Based on the roundtable discussions, there was general agreement that it is important to maintain a continuous open dialogue between the media and the DoT and GTA.
“There is a misperception that Guyana is a dangerous place to visit, but it is not compared to higher-risk destinations that attract very high numbers of visitors compared to Guyana,” explained Mullis.
“The GTA needs to work more closely with the media in sharing information and good news about tourism and presenting a positive image to build the Guyana brand in a context that focuses on the positive growth of the country and highlights what visitors and residents love about the country”, he said.
Director General of Tourism, Sinclair, the release said, stated that the purpose of the interaction was not to confront each other but to engage in a dialogue on how we as Guyanese can better control the narrative that is out there about the country.