Guyana’s tourism product and experience is well aligned with the principles of Geotourism and the country has made strides in this regard through its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and National Protected Area Systems.
Tourism, Industry and Commerce Minister Irfaan Ali made this assertion as he wrapped up his presentation on “Geo-tourism to the Benefit of Local Communities” at the just concluded, XXI Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-level authorities of Tourism, in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, under the leadership of the OAS.
Over the last two days, September 5th- 6th, representatives from 22 member countries of the Organisation of American States (OAS) as well as representatives from regional and international agencies, the private sector, academia and civil society addressed the issues of “tourism and poverty reduction”, and “conscientious tourism”, respectively, by focusing on the benefits of geotourism for local communities.
While there, Minister Ali took part in several panel discussions with Tourism Ministers from Bolivia and Canada, addressing key reas including Geotourism and local Communities, Public and Community Security within the framework of Sustainable Tourism and Sustainable Destination Management.
The event served as an important platform for the exchange of experiences and best practices, and provided a mechanism to support technical studies, strengthen communication between government agencies and the private sector, consider technical cooperation proposals, and support member states in their efforts to develop the tourism sector.
The Congress promoted the adoption of formal agreements among governments in relation to the tourism industry, encouraged comparative studies and technical projects focusing on responsible tourism development, and coordinated activities of intergovernmental and private organizations in the area of tourism development.
In the context of Guyana, Minister Ali sought to highlight the strides made in destination to promote geo tourism and the benefits of this, and the fact that Guyana is globally recognized for its wealth of natural resources, high levels of biodiversity and for having one of the lowest rates of deforestation in the developing world.
GEOTOURISM in the Guyana Context
The term Geotourism has been in use informally since 1997, but currently attracts more people to the concept that enhances the geographical character of a given place, including its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of local residents.
The Government of Guyana (GoG) has had a long history of instituting mechanisms for the effective management and conservation of these resources. More recently, with the development of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS), the Government made the unprecedented commitment to reorient Guyana’s economy onto a low-carbon, “green” pathway and the creation National Protected Areas System (NPAS) is key to achieving the ecologically sustainable development described in the LCDS.
Guyana’s protected areas system will allow for the protection and maintenance of unique natural and cultural heritage, whilst at the same time facilitating sustainable social, environmental and economic development.
Although Guyana has not yet signed onto the National Georgraphic Geotourism Charter, its tourism product and experience is well aligned with the principals of Geotourism and the country has made strides in this regard through its Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) and National Protected Area Systems.
Several sites in Guyana that are currently being developed within the principles of geotourism are, Kaieteur National Park, Kanuku Mountains, Iwokrama, Konashens, and Shell Beach .
The Inter-American Congress of ministers and high-level authorities of tourism was established in 1939 and is the principal hemispheric forum for dialogue and policy development in this sector. It predates the creation of the Organization of American States, which occurred in 1948, and the entry into force of the Charter of the OAS, in December 1951. The Congress was designed to promote sustainable development of tourism in the Americas, through the organization of a series of hemispheric meetings to address relevant technical issues and to develop inter-American cooperation in tourism.