Tourism Awareness Month once again casts the spotlight on our tourism and hospitality sector. This year, we are commemorating this important month under the theme: “Destination Guyana, Recover and Rebuild – Getting ready to bounce back!” which aptly reflects the challenge presently facing the local industry.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism globally. The United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimates that world tourism declined by 65% in the first half of this year, resulting in the loss of more than 850 million jobs and as much as US$ 1.2 trillion in earnings.
Guyana has not been immune to these adverse effects. As I alluded in my message to mark World Tourism Day 2020, the local tourism sector is believed to have suffered an estimated decline of 46% of its revenues for the first half of this year, with 30% of the sector’s employees losing their jobs and an additional 36% being placed on unpaid leave.
I am optimistic, however, that our sector is resilient and will rebound from this setback. I am supremely confident that while our market may have been affected, our tourism product remains unblemished by the pandemic and, that with the right support, the local tourism sector will recover.
My Government is not leaving this recovery to chance. It is actively engaged in employing measures to stimulate the revival of tourism. In this year’s Budget, we announced, for example, the removal of the value-added tax on hinterland travel and the provision of
special tax incentives for new hotels and tourism-related businesses. We have already signaled our intention to nurture the recovery and revitalisation of the sector.
I am upbeat about the industry. Guyana’s tourism sector will rebound. A world class tourism industry will be established with the support of my Government. Already, we have reopened our international airports under strict Covid-19 prevention and containment protocols.
A collective effort is needed to safeguard our precious and diverse tourism product. I urge every Guyanese to continue to play their part as we navigate this very challenging period. I encourage our people to continue to demonstrate that warmth and welcoming disposition which is so characteristic of the traditional Guyanese hospitality; to preserve and protect our natural environment and keep it free from pollution; and to ensure that we comply with the COVID-19 guidelines which are in place to keep our country, its people and our visitors safe.
We will beat this pandemic. Our tourism sector will emerge stronger and more resilient; jobs will be restored and Guyana will continue to entice the world with its astounding tourism product.
Happy Tourism Month, 2020! Continue to keep the environment safe. As we work towards an environment and a world in which climate change can be recognised as a serious threat, all of us as nations and people can do our part in combating climate change.