TOURISM: Branding Guyana, capitalizing on our traditions

TOURISM: Branding Guyana, capitalizing on our traditions

Leonard Gildarie

By Leonard Gildarie

I grew up in Enmore, a quiet East Coast Demerara sugar-producing village where traditions abound. The ways of the people were set. The community centre was a gathering place for cricket and Sunday reveling. The daily and Friday markets were but a welcome getaway from the daily grind and travails.

Those days were heady and looking back, I would trade some things for a return of those days, where everyone was on a first name basis with the rest of the village.

I could not help but think of Enmore as I watched and marveled yesterday at the deep traditions of Britain as Prince Harry wedded Meghan Markle.       

To see the procession, the clockwork arrivals at the St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, the huge crowd that came out and the organization, it was mind-boggling.

The world is mesmerized by Harry and Meghan, as Buckingham Palace appears to have wilted in these modern times. For a royal wedding to have involved a woman, an outsider, who is bi-racial, was unthinkable at one time. More so, an American.

It was clear that from the whirlwind romance and announcement that Prince Harry was smitten with his lady love. Buckingham Palace could do nothing but approve.

As I watched, it was clear that Britain’s monarchy has endeared itself to the world that is watching. If it was losing ground, it regained some with this wedding.

There are lessons to be learned from the royal wedding at Windsor Castle.

The adoration, the pride of the people in their royals, and country, is something to behold.
We have so many things that are going for Guyana.

We also watched the news as one of the world’s oldest leaders, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, swept back to power after a disillusioned Malaysia called for his return. He took on his own handpicked leader, who led his country on a path that was not popular.

We need leadership that is bold, not unwilling to take decisions, and harsh ones at times.

People will come knocking, wooing us with promises. They will ask for a room in our home.

They will promise to share with us some of their salaries from the big jobs that we are offering.
We want that money. However, for us to open our homes, to allow them to use our kitchen and bathroom, we have to collect our deposit, and demand a strong contract.

We want to be assured that if anything is broken in our home or if we no longer want this visitor or tenant, that we have the means to boot them out.

We have, until the announcement of oil, been a country that was wooing investors. Now, people are knocking on our doors. We are in the driver’s seat. We must dictate our terms.

We have sugar, Kaieteur Falls, and a hinterland experience that must be marketed and exploited to the fullest.

In countries like Indonesia and Thailand, one can visit the coconut estates and sample the products. There are rice factories and cake shops. In Italy, the churches are big attractions.

In France, it is the arts and museums. Trinidad has its own carnival. So does Brazil. Barbados has it Crop Over. We have Mashramani and our Phagwahs and Diwalis.

We have lovely sugar estates. It does not matter which hands they land in as we move closer to selling them.
But the administration should consider encouraging the new owners to open up the homes, convert them into condos or apartments. Develop tours and little bags of sugar that we can sell as gift items.
Think of offering tourists a tractor or truck ride to the backdam where they can have a piece of peeled cane. Yes, we must think outside-the-box and look to what other countries are doing.

We have a famous duck curry here. Our dhal puris are to be envied. And what about cook-up and mauby and pepperpot? These are experiences that should not be saved for a little expo at Sophia or at the stadium in Providence. We have to look at ways to diversify our products.

People yearn for clean family fun. The malls in Guyana are welcome. But there are malls all over.

In the coming weeks, there will be special flights from Florida being introduced just for the oil people. I saw recently a Chinese businessman who is building a hotel in the city to capture the Cubans who are coming here.

We need to think of how we can package our traditions. It is not all about a few persons on safaris. We have bird watching and quite a number of exotic resorts in the hinterland. It is time for Guyana.

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  • panbrowne  On 05/26/2018 at 1:12 pm

    OK Leonard which one of these suggestions are you personally willing to take ownership to and what is your timeline for implementation ? keep us posted.
    we need action not words.

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