Tourism sector lost $33.6 billion due to COVID-19 pandemic- Minister Walrond

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Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, MP, said the local tourism industry is beginning to bounce back after suffering significant losses in export earnings, due to a fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The minister made the disclosure during a message in observance of World Tourism Day, being celebrated today, under the theme, “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.

“This observance comes at an important juncture when Guyana’s tourism is poised for recovery. Tourism was one of the hardest-hit sectors in Guyana at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Based on the visitor arrivals statistics, it is estimated that the total loss in export earnings was GYD$33.6 billion in 2020. However, the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, working closely with the Guyana Tourism Authority, has been able to implement a stringent, yet integrated and coordinated recovery process that has yielded positive results.”

The Minister said the provision of training and capacity building opportunities and technical review of standard operating procedures on hygiene and sanitation have been implemented, as well as on-site inspections.

The implementation of these initiatives began just months after the government took office. The Minister said they have resulted in the granting of conditional approvals to safely host travellers, and security for the relevant tour operators’ licences.

“To date, 41 tourism businesses, representing 63% of interior lodges and resorts, and 43% of tour operators have been granted their conditional approvals for reopening.”

These conditional approvals are given on the basis of strict adherence to protocols devised for the safety of tourists and tour operators.

The government’s tourism policy, Minister Walrond explained, will reflect a renewed commitment to sustainable economic development for the creation of jobs in all regions and for the promotion of local culture.

She noted that Government has taken a multifaceted, strategic approach to ensuring Guyana’s safety, including efforts to reach the 80-85 per cent herd immunity.

“The tourism sector will benefit immensely from these measures, and I therefore encourage all Guyanese, including those in the tourism sector to be vaccinated. Vaccination, along with strict adherence to safety protocols, will provide a conducive environment for safer travel and full reopening.”

The Minister said Government is doing all it can and urged all to stay safe and to cooperate with the government’s development agenda for tourism in Guyana. (DPI)

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