By Donald Sinclair
The proposition that the city of Georgetown should see itself as a tourism destination in its own right may strike some as controversial, even untenable. One line of thinking holds that Guyana should high profile its natural attractions, bio-diversity, wildlife and unique cultural forms – a trajectory that should take visitors far from the city and into the jungles, savannahs and deep interior where nature abounds. In other words, tourism equals hinterland and interior, and Guyana is still seen as retaining much of that ‘final frontier,’ undiscovered country image that prevails well into 21st century travel writing.
The anti-Georgetown tourism posture has very deep roots and predates by several decades, the blight as manifested in garbage accumulation, vehicular congestion, noise and charmless construction, that some would say has now afflicted and overtaken the city. For a number of years the view of tourism as a contaminant seemed to hold sway and even to influence thinking and policy direction at the highest levels.
Some may recall the tourism prescription of former President Burnham whose vision was of a Guyana that was visited by tourists who would spend just a short time in the city before being whisked off to enjoy the beauty of the interior. Tourism was more palatable if the city was spared its direct impacts. As ecotourism, nature tourism, green tourism, rural tourism, wildlife tourism gained prominence in the global discourse on tourism; as the rainforest assumed greater importance in considerations of sustainable development strategies, the rationale for an urban tourism development strategy seemed to lose force…..