GEORGETOWN, Guyana (GINA) -- Acting tourism, industry and commerce minister, Irfaan Ali, has announced that efforts are being made to promote Guyana as major international hub between the Americas and the rest of the world, with the country building a mechanism to encourage more traffic from Latin and South America to Guyana.
The minister made this assertion as he addressed the first meeting of tourism ministers of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) in Quito, Ecuador, on Friday.
Tourism ministers from the 12-member group were meeting in Quito, to discuss the establishment of a single visa for the region. Other topics to be covered include the creation of the South American Tourism Network and/or the South American Tourism Institute, with the aim of adopting a common working plan and establishing a permanent coordination mechanism in order to promote the tourism potential of South America. The ministers were also meeting to discuss the adoption of a common work plan, building a permanent coordination mechanism within UNASUR.
Ali expounded on the importance of the sharing of information, research and building partnership in marketing and promoting the products of the region, and also suggested the twinning of markets within the region.
“We need to work on joint initiatives that would advance and further develop our product whilst we grow our markets. As member states we also need to build an integrated marketing and information sharing platform for the region that would achieve cost benefit through economies of scale,” he stated.
More importantly, he pointed to the necessity of developing a common platform that will allow ease of access and hassle free movement for tourists between destinations in member states. In this regard, he proposed working on a regional transportation system with tourism as a core focus.
Alluding to one of the actions to be taken when developing a common work plan, Ali said, “Recognising that our tourism product is heavily eco and nature based we should seek active involvement in the global debate regarding climate change and develop an action plan that would safeguard the industry.”
In addition, he said that member states need to work out a mechanism where students can benefit from exchange programmes at the university, particularly in Guyana, being English-speaking; universities can offer one-year exchange programmes where students will be able to learn different languages.
Ali explained too that it is important to build a financial mechanism to help community based tourism in the collective effort to promote sustainable tourism as a commitment of the UNASUR states.
He said, “We need to build a mechanism that would stimulate and incorporate partnership with the private sector,” and pointed to the advantages of promoting the tourism potential of South America and the important role of UNASUR in achieving this.
The meeting was attended by the secretary general of UNASUR and tourism ministers from member states.