Guyana continues to grow as a destination of choice for travellers. As of December 31st, 2018, Guyana recorded a total number of visitor arrivals of 286,732 passengers; a 15.93% increase from the 247,330 visitors Guyana welcomed in 2017.
Over the past years, the Guyana Tourism Authority has worked on raising the profile of Destination Guyana through increased product development, awareness raising activities and niche marketing. This includes attendance at trade shows such as American Birding Expo, ITB, and World Travel Market. The year 2018 saw big changes in GTA’s marketing efforts. A new destination website and social media strategy were launched; market representation was secured in the core source markets of the US, Canada, UK and Germany; and Guyana Tourism Authority hosted several trade, media and influencer FAM trips – all with the aim of increasing awareness of Guyana and driving demand among travellers seeking out authentic, nature, adventure and cultural experiences.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) a visitor is a traveller taking a trip to a main destination outside his/her usual environment, for an overnight stay up to less than a year, for any main purpose (business, leisure or other personal purpose) other than to be employed by a resident entity in the country or place visited. While the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation did report an internal passenger arrival number of 325,800 individuals, the figure captured by the Guyana Tourism Authority is that of visitor specific arrivals, in keeping with the UNWTO definition.
For the first time, Guyana has seen a significant increase in some of its core source markets such as the US (8.28% increase), Europe (11.82% increase) and other Caribbean nations (28% increase).
Travellers come to Guyana to enjoy its pristine rainforest and the golden savannahs of the Rupununi, its unique indigenous community-owned eco-lodges and its nature resorts on the Essequibo and Demerara Rivers, Guyanese events such as Bartica Regatta and Guyana Carnival, and the most popular attraction of them all, majestic Kaieteur Falls. Kaieteur National Park recorded a total of 8,195 visitors to the tourist attraction in 2018, which is a 10% increase from the previous year.
Guyana also hosted the OAS CITUR Conference in March 2018 and the ICAO Air Transport Meeting in November 2018 which saw scores of international officials, all of whom experienced Guyana’s tourism product.
Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, who has responsibility for tourism, hailed the increased visitor arrivals as an opportunity for more communities, individuals and businesses to invest around the tourism product. The Minister noted that, “word of Guyana’s unique tourism offerings is reaching more people around the world anddestination Guyana continues to gain significance”. The government, he added, “will continue to provide the necessary support and incentives as an impetus to the sector. The Department of Tourism and the Guyana Tourism Authority will continue to work with stakeholders in keeping with the Living Guyana Tourism Strategic Action Plan 2018-2025.”
Brian T. Mullis, Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority noted that “this is a great achievement for Guyana. We are beginning to attract an increasing number of travellers seeking our authentic nature, culture and adventure experiences within our core markets. Increased visitation means increased income into Guyana that provides benefits across sectors. Tourism is the third largest export market in Guyana. Looking forward, we aim to increase the volume of visitors and the value they each represent to further amplify the positive impacts from tourism.”
With a more targeted marketing approach, ongoing development of the tourism product and increased airlift (LIAT Airlines added a new route in July 2018, and American Airlines recently started serving the destination in November 2018), Guyana is expected to see growth in its visitor arrivals and the improvement of the overall visitor experience in the coming years.