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The National COVID-19 Task Force (NCTF) has granted permission for lodges, resorts and tour companies to resume operations, the new COVID-19 Emergency Measures released Monday said.
Last week, President of the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), Mitra Ramkumar had called on the Government to allow lodges, resorts and tour companies to operate as essential services.
Ramkumar reminded that it has been over eight months since the industry had been shut down causing revenues to dry up. He had pointed out that the COVID-19 Emergency Measures have been relaxed for the public transportation sector, where many still travel in crowded mini-buses and taxis, while the more professional tourism industry was not permitted to conduct tour operations although there is a readiness to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.
The updated COVID-19 Emergency Measures state under the heading ‘essential and other services’ which once catered to ‘hotels and accommodation’, ‘hotels and other accommodations, including interior lodges and resorts, and tour companies’ can be re-opened.
In an invited comment, Ramkumar told the Village Voice News: “We’re very happy and pleased about this. We would have lobbied for it for a very long time because it’s eight months and counting since we’ve been shut down. While we welcome this reopening, I want to say that the industry will adhere strictly not only to the guidelines that have been gazette but we will go above and beyond that in terms of our operations.”
In his last engagement with the media, the THAG President 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.
Moving forward, he iterated that the tourism industry will hold itself and operators within the sector to the highest of standards as it seeks to achieve a balance of tourism and safety.
“If anyone breaches the guidelines then they should be sanctioned for it. Based on what those penalties are, they need to feel the full brunt of it because although we’ve been lobbying for this we want to ensure that, as a destination, everyone is operating at the same level, at the same standard and at the same level of safety,” he said.