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…THAG tells COVID-19 Task Force
The Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), which represents 47 companies and 77 small and medium-sized enterprises, has called on the National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) to allow the re-opening of lodges and tourism destination facilities in Guyana as the current shut down is suffocating the tourism industry.
President of THAG, Mitra Ramkumar in a statement to the media on Monday, said that it has been over eight months since the industry has been shut down causing staff to be laid off and revenues to dry up.
Ramkumar noted that the COVID-19 Emergency Measures have been relaxed for the public transportation sector. He said many persons still travel in crowded minibuses and taxis, while tourism industry is not permitted to conduct tour operations although there is a readiness to comply with the COVID-19 restrictions.
Ramkumar said that this represents an “inconsistency and absence of rational application of the COVID-19 pandemic regulations”.
“We address this statement to our Government, appealing directly to the Prime Minister, as Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force, to reconsider the current shutdown of our industry. We stand ready to be inspected and to respond professionally to any SOPs applied to any other industry, whether essential or otherwise, which is allowed to function. We only ask for fair and equitable treatment…it has been eight months, and counting since the Tourism and Hospitality Industry of Guyana has been closed due to the pandemic, without any revenue-generating opportunities, with facilities closed, staff furloughed or laid off,” the THAG President said.
Ramkumar noted too that “The industry operators have a greater vested interest in a safe return to business as we fully understand the plight of our staff and their families who have been severely impacted by the pandemic. It is inconceivable how these workers, predominantly women, single mothers supporting their families, have been managing these eight months. Restart tourism, leaving no one behind.”
The THAG President also reminded that lodges, riverside, creek and open savannah destinations are open-air and professionally run with trained staff and established SOPs. With restaurants being permitted only to have outside dining, he noted that many tourism operations offer open-air dining under the skies and plenty of space for social distancing.
He also pointed out that Guyana’s economy is estimated at a minimum of GY$32.8B in export earnings, based on the average expenditure per international traveler and that the average expenditure per international traveler per visit was GY$222,216 in 2018. Ramkumar said it begs to question the irrational shut down of the industry compared to other sectors.