Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Carla James says the agency welcomes the reopening of the international airports and is “very satisfied” with the protocols adopted for safe operations.
Both the Cheddi Jagan International Airport and the Eugene F. Correia International Airport were reopened on Monday after being closed since March 18 to prevent imported cases of COVID-19.
Speaking with DPI on Monday, the GTA Director said the agency’s role now is to educate the travelling public; “that’s both the diaspora and other travellers from around the world, about what these protocols are.”
James expects to see international travel mainly for business. She notes that there are still some things to be done before it can be deemed “safe” for leisure travel in country.
Health and safety protocols are paramount to reopening the tourism sector and this will be done in phases. The first phase will be the opening of ‘Safe Travel Corridors/Circuits.’
“We can’t open all at once, it has to be done in a way that we can manage it, from a health and safety standpoint for the travelling guests,” she explained.
Meanwhile, the GTA will be on the coast ensuring that hotels which are allowed to operate within the gazetted guidelines are implementing the health protocols recommended by the Ministry of Health and the Authority, and ensuring that those protocols work efficiently.
“This is our new norm; there is no way going around this. There is no way going back to anything before so we have to learn to operate in this new environment and do it well so that we can keep the travelling public and local communities safe,” Ms. James said.
The GTA will be focusing on inspection activities to determine if businesses have implemented the recommended protocols before they can be identified as safe to host guests.
However, the Authority stands ready to help these businesses develop protocols and train staff, among other measures, to meet the requisite standard.
The GTA Director says the agency is prepared to work “as we prepare to open the sector from an internal standpoint”.
The tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by COVID-19 and while international leisure travel has not restarted and may not until the first quarter of 2021, the GTA will work with businesses to promote domestic tourism.