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Guiana Shield tourism initiative takes centre stage at UN
Published on May 29, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version


Guyana’s ambassador to the UN, Rudolph Ten-Pow (L) and his Suriname counterpart Henry MacDonald (R)

By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor

NEW YORK, USA -- The Guiana Shield Tourism Initiative, the brainchild of Henry MacDonald, Suriname’s permanent representative to the United Nations, and supported by Guyana’s ambassador to the UN, Rudolph Ten-Pow, took centre stage at the UN on Tuesday.

The Guiana Shield Tourism Initiative falls within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and calls for private public partnership (PPP) to drive the initiative.

“The Caribbean Guiana Shield Area is an exciting, tri-country eco-tourism plan featuring Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. The Shield Area commemorates the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s International Year of Sustainable Tourism Development. We are proud to premiere this new tourism initiative during this conference,” MacDonald said.

The packed audience was treated to a visual presentation of the Guianas.

Various speakers, including Ten-Pow; the president of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson; the former president of Haiti, Michel Martelly, among many others experts shared their insights, best practices, and their long-range predictions regarding the growth of “new economies” in developing countries.

Many echoed the sentiment, “it’s time to act, enough talking”, let's get it done, they said. All speakers called for more public private sector partnership in order to achieve the SDGs. Ten-Pow called for investors in areas of airlift, accommodation, food industry, service, tour packages and hotels in Guyana.

In 2015, Guyana’s minister of tourism, Catherine Hughes, said that her government will “re-examine the Guiana Shield project, an initiative where Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are marketed as a single tourism package, to attract more visitors to Guyana. New emphasis will be placed on packaging, inclusive of visitors’ airfare, accommodation and activities at an affordable price.”

And while the initiative is receiving high profile attention at the UN because of MacDonald and Ten-Pow, it will require a full commitment by the all stakeholders in Suriname and Guyana – the private sector, foreign ministers, local law enforcement and the presidential secretariats of both countries.

The project will require great political will from the governments of Guyana and Suriname to commit to some bold initiatives such as a common visa. This initiative will eventually have to include Barbados, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. Visitors stay away from countries that require multiple visas. EU and US citizens don't need a visa or a tourist card to visit any Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries but Suriname.

However, what about tourists outside of North America and Europe? Take, for example, a few Kuwaitis who have visited Guyana and Jamaica, but can't combine their vacation with, for instance, Barbados, Suriname or Trinidad. They need additional visas for those countries. Only a few years ago, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya began jointly marketing their tourism product by offering a common East African visa. Additionally, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe, also offer tourists a common visa.

Guyana and Jamaica have embassies in Kuwait City.

A detailed “Guiana Shield Tourism” plan has already been prepared to move the initiative forward during the year for the promotion of sustainable tourism development. Next, the three involved countries will work on a joint public announcement in New York City regarding their commitment to develop strategies for the promotion of the Guiana Shield as the greenest and most exciting tourism destination on earth.

A blueprint will be created to open an office dedicated to the promotion of tourism in the Guiana Shield in Beijing, China. In August, the Caribbean Guiana Shield countries will partner with the UNWTO to focus on recognizing the importance of the International Year for Sustainable Tourism Development globally, according to MacDonald.

During the high-level week at the United Nations, an event is in the making to invite heads of state and government and first ladies to gather high level support for tourism sustainability, investment and development.

In October, the travel media, tourism professionals, investors, UN officials, airline, hotel and travel executives will embark on a familiarization tour to Suriname, French Guiana and Guyana in order to become acquainted with the prospects of the Shield.

Finally, in November, the focus will be on creating a corporate district or financial free zone in LDC and emerging markets to encourage public-private partnerships and cultural tourism as well as the new economy in support of sustainable investments that propel SDG success.
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