Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Senator Richard ‘Ricky’ Skerritt (centre) is flanked by Minister of Tourism, Guyana, Hon. Irfraan Ali (left) and secretary general of the CTO, Hugh Riley, during the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Senior Gleaner Writer
Outpacing the rest of the Caribbean in its fight against climate change and the reduction of global carbon emissions, Guyana has emerged as a leader on the world stage.
Unlike many of its neighbours and CARICOM partners, who have been forced to turn a blind eye and accommodate Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs), some, to the detriment of the environment, Guyana has chosen to protect virtually its entire 40 million acres of rainforest.
"Guyana has led by example," stated Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) chairman, Ricky Skerritt, lauding the South American nation for its deliberate decision to "stand up and be counted in the global fight against the vast extremes of climate change".
Skerritt, who officially opened the 13th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Sunday night, in Georgetown, Guyana, said, "With the urgent economic imperatives and critical fiscal challenges confronting our region, Guyana could easily have succumbed to the temptation to expand the extraction of timber and other resources from its vast rain forests, for economic gain".
Instead the government recognised the long-term negative impact of deforestation, and has been convinced that it ought not to be forced to choose between short-term development priorities and climate change, argued Skerritt.
Approximately 80 per cent of the natural land asset of Guyana is being preserved through deliberate and responsible decision-making by its government.
And the country is no poorer for its stance, as it is attracting more and more attention from the world of travel & tourism, especially the adventure-tourism markets.
Skerritt, who is also Minister of Tourism for St. Kitts-Nevis, noted that it was no accident that the theme chosen for this year’s conference is: Keeping the Right Balance: Sustaining our Resources.
"The case of Guyana is a clear example that it is our God-given natural assets and our rich cultural heritage that best distinguish the Caribbean from our competitors, and that responsible tourism is actually good for business. "
He added that with tourism being the leading money earner for so many Caribbean nationals, what this conference theme suggests is that, in order to appropriately address the essentials of economic growth and poverty alleviation, we must each adopt a development strategy that is sustainability based.
The 13th Annual Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development is being held from April 15-18 at the Guyana International Conference Centre.