A Long-standing Commitment to Responsible Travel
South America’s best kept secret is not much of a secret anymore. From its Low Carbon Development Strategy to the more recent Green State Development Strategy (GSDS), Guyana has had a long-standing commitment to a sustainability agenda. This coupled with nine Indigenous Nations who have been stewards of their ancestral lands for a millennia illustrates that sustainability is a core value and a way of life for many Guyanese.
Within the tourism sector, sister governmental agencies are working closely with one another and with the tourism businesses and communities to integrate sustainable tourism best practice into the national tourism strategy, policy, planning, product development, and promotions. All of the hard work is beginning to pay off. Placed against more well-known destinations, Guyana has begun to receive international recognition through several prominent awards:
- The World’s #1 Best of Ecotourism and a Top 10 Sustainable Destination at ITB Berlin, the world’s leading travel and trade show (March 2019)
- The #1 Best in Sustainable Tourism at the LATA Achievement Awards (June 2019)
- The #1 Best in Destination Stewardship at the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Awards Programme (August 2019)
- 1st Place for the Guyana – Welcome back to Nature Video at the Golden City Gate Awards (March 2019)
The shared vision 2025 for Guyana is to be recognized locally and internationally as a premier destination for protecting its natural and cultural heritage, providing authentic experiences, and maximising benefits to local residents. The country’s vision is starting to be realised. It is a remarkable achievement by any measure, and warrants a closer look…
Responsible Travel is the New Norm
An increasing number of travellers are seeking out unspoiled destinations and looking to positively impact the people and places they visit. With its recent move into the limelight and its tremendous endowment of bio- and cultural diversity, Guyana has found its way onto traveller’s bucket list.
In a mega-diverse country like Guyana where communities are working hard to conserve their wildlife and forests so travellers can experience nature in its original form, the tangible environmental, economic and social benefits visitors provide arguably outweigh the costs of carbon emissions associated with their flights to the country.
Recognising that it is often difficult for travellers to understand how they can help create these benefits, Visitor Guidelines For Sustainable Travel are available to help visitors make a positive difference when they travel. A Guyana Travel Advisory is also available to help travellers plan a safe visit.
Indigenous Community Tourism Enterprises
Guyana is the only country in the world where indigenous tourism is a primary offering and focal point. Surama Eco-lodge, Rewa Eco-lodge, and Caiman House Field Station & Guest House act as the blueprint for sustainable, community-led and owned tourism in Guyana. The host communities own the enterprises, which results in all of the residents receiving economic benefits. What’s equally beneficial is that the host communities have an incentive to protect wildlife habitat and preserve their traditional culture.
Due to the success of community-led and owned tourism, numerous indigenous communities throughout Guyana offer lodging and tours. Just remember you need to get permission to visit and follow the village code of conduct to ensure you positively impact the people you meet.
Wildlife Conservation Efforts
With most of its forest intact and relatively inaccessible, Guyana is a vital refuge for an abundance of animal species that have declined due to habitat destruction and relentless hunting elsewhere. These animals include true “giants” such as the arapaima, the world’s largest freshwater fish; the jaguar, the largest cat in the Americas; and the Harpy Eagle, the most powerful of the world’s birds of prey.
Wildlife enthusiasts can rest easy knowing that Guyana is in compliance with the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Guyana Wildlife Conservation and Management Commission (GWCMC) is responsible for all matters related to the protection, conservation, and sustainable management of Guyana’s wildlife. The commission now regulates the sustainable use of Guyana’s wildlife.
The Sustainable Wildlife Management (SWM) Guyana programme complements these efforts. It is focused on ensuring the Rupununi region continues to offer sustainable livelihoods, and maintain traditional lifestyles and healthy fish and wildlife populations. Collectively, these efforts provide travellers with authentic experiences that make a difference.
Renewable Energy Across Guyana
Wildlife conservation efforts are not the only noteworthy achievements. Guyana has been making impressive strides in renewable energy. Although it’s currently dependent on petroleum-based fuels, the country’s energy sector is poised for significant transformation due to a national commitment to 100% renewable energy.
To date, concerted efforts to increase access to renewable energy in rural areas has resulted in the installation of 19,000 solar PV systems in nearly 200 communities. Along the coast, more than 175 public and government buildings have been equipped with PV system and solar powered LED street lights have been installed throughout the National Park in Georgetown. Chances are, if you stay at ecolodges like Surama, Iwokrama, and Rewa, you will be glad to know that these lodges are all run on solar power.
Experience Sustainability in Guyana
It is no secret that Guyana has and continues to work towards maximising the positive socio-economic impacts and conservation outcomes of tourism. The examples herein are just a few of the important steps that are being taken. Sustainable tourism is a journey. In Guyana, it’s the destination as well. Experience it for yourself with the help of a licensed local tour operator or consult the Guyana Tourism Authority.
About the Authors:
Brian T. Mullis is a destination marketing, management and sustainable development specialist with 26 years of leadership experience in the private, public and civil sectors. As the current Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority, Brian is a social entrepreneur, with a proven ability to build businesses, develop and sustain high performing teams, create innovative tourism products, lead successful global and regional projects and achieve organisational objectives. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sade Cameron is the Marketing and Communications officer at the Guyana Tourism Authority. A peculiar and introverted soul (emphasis on introverted, please) with a passion for writing, Sade manages the GTA’s content creation demands with ease. Whether it be nature and wildlife pieces, or Guyana’s culture and heritage, she takes pride in doing what she loves most – being able to capture the pristine beauty of Guyana through her words and share that with the world. You can contact her at email@example.com
About the Guyana Tourism Authority: The Guyana Tourism Authority is a semi-autonomous governmental organisation responsible for developing and promoting sustainable tourism in Guyana through collaboration with sister agencies and the tourism private sector in order to maximise local socio-economic and conservation outcomes and improve the visitors’ experience. For more information on Guyana’s quest towards sustainability, follow GTA’s website at guyanatourism.com for articles like these and so much more.