Guyana hopes to benefit from surge of ecotourism interest

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- In terms of tourist development, Guyana "is a young country," according to Geoffrey Da Silva, minister of trade, tourism and industry.

In an address to delegates at a recent ecotourism conference in Guyana, sponsored by the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Da Silva welcomed the opportunity to "get Guyana more into the tourist loop."

Although the country is not known as a beach destination, which may have deterred traditional tourists in the past, Da Silva is optimistic that the current surge of interest in nature and culture-oriented tourism could propel Guyana into the ecotourism mainstream.

Indeed, Guyana "will make a voice that will roar within the industry," Da Silva said.

Noel Lynch, CTO chairman, characterized Guyana as "an ecotourist's dream come true."

While the development of tourist facilities and services is "a challenge in a nation whose pockets are not too deep," Da Silva said Guyana is committed to major changes in its approach to tourism.

One plan, slated for a test run by the end of the year, is the implementation of a Guianas Trail program.

The plan will highlight the colonial aspects of the former British, French and Dutch Guianas, now Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

Tour operators will be invited to sample the program and offer feedback.

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