In a newsroom article from November 15, 2020, titled “Think Big – Tourism Min. disappointed by the lack of proposals up to the level of foreign investors ”. The article was about Minister Oneidge Walrond’s encouragement for local businesses interested in the tourism sector to think outside the box when it comes to commercial ventures in the sector. The article said that “Minister Oneidge Walrond said on Sunday that she was disappointed that with the arrival of major investors in Guyana there were few or no proposals prepared by residents that could be presented.” Some of these investors, as reported in the press article, were from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Dubai. The minister further indicated that she was disappointed not to be able to find any private sector tourism product to present to officials and investors from Qatar and Dubai during their visit, although billions are available to invest in this type of tourism. projects. In another article from the Department of Public Information (DPI) published on December 5, 2020 and entitled “The Ministry of Tourism invites proposals for the development of eco lodges, resorts”, the ministry invites the ministry to submit proposals by January 30, 2022. It is commendable that the ministry is exploring funding opportunities to help develop the local tourism industry and has issued a call for proposals. However, my interest is that Guyanese should be treated as equal partners in business and investment. As such, has the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and / or the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Trade concluded an agreement or a memorandum of understanding with Qatar or Dubai, relating to development? of the tourism industry in Guyana? If so, what are the terms? The minister further stated in one of the articles “If I have these proposals, I can send them to Dubai and Qatar”.
Can the Minister inform the Guyanese public about the system set up at the level of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and / or, the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Trade, to protect intellectual property? and the commercial proposals of those companies that will submit their proposals? What are the terms for sending proposals to Dubai and Qatar? What happens to the proposals if they are not accepted? What protections exist for Guyanese companies, to ensure that their business proposals are not implemented otherwise, without their authorization? If the proposals are accepted, will the companies submitting the proposals be treated as equal partners? These are just a few of my questions. Guyana becoming an important business and investment space, Guyanese and Guyanese companies must understand that “Guyana is a big company” and be very clear on the value of what we have and what we bring to the community. table, as partners. The value that foreign investors and officials can bring, as in this case tourism, money, technical expertise, etc. ; the value brought by Guyanese companies is the business proposition (idea), land, local knowledge etc, as such it would be wise for the ministry to ensure that a framework is in place to allow for agreements sustainable salespeople, companies, etc. and ensure that companies and their intellectual property (proposals, ideas) are protected in these partnerships and that there is mutual benefit. The ministry should also work to strengthen integrity within its own organization, as well as its associated agencies.
I have had an experience with the Department and the National Trust Guyana which I consider unprofessional and unethical. I am working with a group to develop a tourism product in the areas of the east bank and the upper Demerara around heritage, history etc., we even have a registered company, “Demerara Countryside Tours”. At the end of September 2020 I met an official from Guyana Tourism Authority and shared our business idea for the tourism product, then in early October 2021 I spoke with a senior official from National Trust Guyana by phone, and sent an e-mail about the possibility of organizing a discussion on the development of the island of Borsselen in the Demerara river as a heritage site, as part of our tourism product, and to discuss other matters concerning the history and the heritage of the Demerara river. I included in the email that I had contacted a cultural and heritage organization in the Netherlands on the possibility of supporting the development of a product “Cultural heritage tourism (historical)” around “history Dutch shared ”in Demerara, but more precisely, around the island Borsselen, as the former capital of the settlement of Demerara, and that this could be part of our discussion. But since I was an individual, the discussion was not as fruitful as expected, however, as a government agency the interest might be different. After doing extensive research, I have also included in the email that we can explore the possibility of including Guyana as one of the partner countries of an organization’s new strategy in the Netherlands on the “Shared cultural heritage program” which is part of its international cultural policy.
To date, I have not received a response from the senior official of the National Trust Guyana, however, I subsequently read an article in the press that the Department of Tourism in association with the National Trust Guyana will embark on a project to rehabilitate the Dutch sites in Essequibo and Berbice ”. I suspect the reason the project was not extended to Demerara is that my group has a registered company (Demerara Countryside Tours) to develop the idea in Demerara. Finally, if the Ministry of Tourism thought the idea was good, the ethical thing to do would have been to contact me, and indicate that they liked the idea and wanted to implement it in Essequibo and Berbice as well. Now, how can we share our whole proposal with the Ministry after this experience? You would have thought that if you have an idea of tourism, the place to go to get help to develop it is the Ministry of Tourism; likewise with an idea on heritage, the national trust is the place to go. However, we are still looking for investors interested in treating us as real partners, to develop the idea into a tourism product. It could provide important jobs to communities along the eastern shore and upper Demerara regions.