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The High Commission of Canada continues to support Indigenous communities in Guyana during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the launch of the project “Restarting Tourism: Establishing Health and Safety Protocols for Eco-Lodges to Resume Operations During COVID-19”.
This project will support Indigenous community-based Eco-Lodges to safely bring tourists back to their communities after a 9-month COVID-imposed hiatus and also provide best practices that can be useful to others within the sector, the high commission said in a release.
According to the release in March 2020, the tourism industry in Guyana was brought to a standstill as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closure of the airports. This severely affected Indigenous communities in Guyana’s tourism regions whose primary source of income is tourism.
With the recent announcement of approvals in Guyana to restart the industry, the “Restarting Tourism: Establishing Health and Safety Protocols for Eco-Lodges to Resume Operations during COVID-19” project was formulated to provide staff, villagers, transportation providers and tour operators at the identified eco-lodges with the training needed to operate during COVID-19.
The project which is being executed by Wilderness Explorers Guyana, will work with the Rewa, Surama and Caiman House Eco-lodges. Training will include staff safety, guest safety, sanitation practices and emergency care, along with the transferring of knowledge for the community and other staff within their lodges and neighbouring loges which is essential for long term success. Training sessions will be done at the Atta Lodge, located in the Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve. The project will also work closely with Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Ministry of Health to ensure that the lodges are locally and internationally COVID-compliant and the protocols are sustainable for the sector. The training will be timely and beneficial to the communities to strengthen their position as viable eco-tourism service providers as more attention continues to be placed on the sector.
At the conclusion of the training each participating lodge will receive a manual to take back to their communities to be used as a reference guide on health and safety protocols. Each lodge will also receive cleaning and sanitization supplies to support the implementation of sanitization practices at their facilities.
Additionally, once the standards are in place, the project will embark on a tourism promotion drive both locally and internationally, in collaboration with the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) and the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG), where the Rewa, Surama and Caiman House Eco-lodges will be marketed as safe and ‘COVID-compliant’. The aim is to increase the interest in their unique tourism offering and also increase the amount tourists to the communities while also demonstrating that safety protocols are in place. This will provide steady employment for the residents and contribute to Guyana’s eco-tourism sector.
Ms. Andrea de Caires, General Manager of Wilderness Explorers, shared, “We recognise the challenges that communities and eco-lodges are facing to reopen their tourism businesses safely. Wilderness Explorers in partnership with the Guyana Tourism Authority are grateful to the Canadian High Commission for their support in expanding our training in the health and safety Covid-19 protocols. Using Atta Rainforest Lodge as a classroom, the training will provide theoretical and practical knowledge to lodge managers and staff so that they are prepared to deliver safe service.”
At the High Commission, Charge d’affaires, Janine Cocker, said “Canada is pleased to support this effort to ensure both safety and economic security of communities that have worked hard to build up their tourism industry”.
Project activities are scheduled to commence in early January and be completed by April 2021.
This project aligns with the Government of Canada’s support for economic resilience in vulnerable communities. The High Commission has worked with many Indigenous communities in the past to support economic development. This includes a partnership to establish the Paramakatoi Food Processing Training and Research facility that produces Sundried Tomato Ketchup and Sundried Tomato Salad Dressings and supportings two farine factories in Wowetta and Moco Moco (Region 9) to promote food security and enterprise development amongst the women agro-processors.