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We’re trying to merge the whole issue of environmental protection and sustainable development

into the tourism product, so that the value of Guyana’s greenery and biodiversity can be understood. — Mohamed Irfaan Ali, acting minister of tourism, industry and commerce for Guyana

The world-famous Kaieteur Falls is a natural wonder, Roraima Ball Room is also Guyana’s biggest with the highest single-drop waterfall in the world, at 226 multifunction hall, with a seating capacity for up to 800 meters. Surrounding Kaieteur are a number of rare, people. threatened species, including the golden frog, whose A different kind of hotel is the Cara Lodge, a threeentire life cycle plays out in the water that collects in the story wooden mansion in the heart of Georgetown. giant Tank Bromeliads, the second-largest bromeliad in Dating from the 1840s, this home-turned-hotel was once the world, as well as the Guianan cock-of-the-rock and the residence of the first Lord Mayor of Georgetown. The the Makanaima birds, who emerge in the hundreds at Cara Lodge opened for business in 1996, later expanding dusk from under the vast shelf of rock carved by the falls from 14 rooms to 34 under the supervision of owner over the centuries. Guyana, in fact, is a birder’s paradise, Shaun McGrath. filled with 858 species prevalent in the The Cara Lodge also boasts two suites: Guiana Shield. the Quamina Suite, named after one of the Some 20 miles up the Essequibo leaders of the 1763 slave rebellion, and the River — the largest river between the Walter Raleigh Suite, which pays tribute to Orinoco and Amazon — easily the English explorer who came to Guyana accessible by private speedboats or in 1594, in search of the legendary El fast water taxis, is the mining town of Dorado. Bartica, where the Essequibo is joined For many years, Guyana’s premier hotel by the Mazaruni and Cuyuni Rivers. has been the Pegasus. Located on eight This magnificent expanse of waterway acres of prime real estate along the is home to the lovely Hurakabra River Georgetown seawall, the 130-room swanky Resort and Baganara Island Resort, property was acquired in 2009 by both beautifully appointed beachfront businessman Robert Badal, who properties surrounded by tropical immediately embarked on an $8 million forest. renovation. Mohamed Irfaan Ali, The waters surrounding Bartica “The Pegasus has a long history of minister of housing and water and acting minister and these two resorts provide some attracting the cream of the crop of travelers of tourism, industry and of the most stunning, virtually who come to Guyana,” said Badal, estimating commerce for Guyana untouched river scenery anywhere in last year’s occupancy rate at 65 percent. “Our the world. Bartica is also a port of clientele is mainly diplomats and business entry, where customs clearance for cruisers takes less travelers, rather than ethnic Guyanese who tend to stay than an hour, and the area is hurricane-free. As a result, with their family when they come home. All the big cruisers sailing north from Brazil to the Caribbean are functions and moments in the history of this country now making the Essequibo River a top destination. have taken place here.” Tourism to Guyana in general is on the rise. Not far away, a 197-room Marriott is rising. The fiveAccording to Ali, the country saw an 18 percent increase star hotel, to be finished in mid-2014, represents a $58 in tourist arrivals last year. million investment and will mark the first time an “We count every person who is not a Guyanese as a international chain enters the Guyanese market. Among tourist,” he said, explaining that the 183,000 nonother things, the Marriott will have a boardwalk, a casino Guyanese who visited in 2012 came from the United and 17,000 square meters of guest space on nine floors. States (58 percent), Canada (19.6 percent) and the “In 2001, we had 700 hotel rooms in all classes. Now Caribbean (17.9 percent). The rest arrived from Europe, we have 2,900 rooms,” said Tourism Minister Ali. “The South America or elsewhere. Marriott’s clientele will be more package tourism, which Yet despite the deep cultural links between Guyana is something we’ve never had before.” and the United Kingdom, and the thousands of Something else Guyana has never had before is cruise Guyanese who call England their home, no direct flights ships — despite the many requests the government has exist between the British Isles and Guyana. “Most received from major cruise lines. Said Ali: “One of our European tourists who come here fly to Barbados, but to major challenges is our main harbor, which cannot get the connection to Guyana you have to wait a accommodate larger ships. We are working to develop a minimum of 16 hours, which is not good for the market,” deepwater port to ensure that this capacity constraint is he said. removed.” One approach Ali’s office is attempting to remedy that situation is to market Barbados and Guyana as a common destination “so you can have a seven-day package with beaches, blue waters and sunshine, but also a strong ecotourism product and cultural heritage.” Georgetown, Guyana’s quaintly colonial capital, is itself a tourist attraction, famous for its stately Parliament building, the iconic Stabroek Market clock tower and St. George’s Cathedral, which at 43 meters high is one of the world’s tallest wooden structures. Georgetown also hosts the 15-member Caribbean Community, which in February 2005 inaugurated its gleaming new headquarters in the city’s Liliendaal district. Accommodation varies from boutiques hotels to guest houses to the recently inaugurated six-story sixPhoto: courtesy of Wilderness Explorers story Princess Hotel, whose 200 rooms make it the largest hotel in Guyana. It boasts a casino with 250 slot machines Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and others look at a giant turtle on Shell Beach. and offers a wide range of table games. The hotel’s

April • May 2013

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Photo: courtesy of Wilderness Explorers

Iwokrama Rainforest Nature Reserve

Photo: Baganara Resort

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Photo: courtesy of Wilderness Explorers

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