GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) – With the hosting of Cricket Carnival in September, an event that will bring some of the biggest names in the regional and international entertainment industries to Guyana, the country is crystalising its place as the entertainment capital of the region.
This is according to tourism, industry and commerce minister Oneidge Walrond, who was at the time addressing revellers who turned up in the hundreds at Rodeo 2022 to celebrate the return of the event at the Triple R Ground, Lethem, Region Nine, on Saturday.
The grand annual event was put on pause for two years due to COVID-19 and the turnout on Saturday suggests that party-goers throughout Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, New York, neighbouring Brazil and other countries, could not wait for it to happen.
The music filled the air, the cowboys and girls performed some of the most daring stunts; beautiful craftwork from Lethem flooded the Triple R Ground; food was in abundance and the drinks overflowed with many emptying their cups to the last dreg.
The celebration began around 15:00hrs and ended around 03:00hrs the next day. In Lethem, rooms were secured weeks in advance and airlines were fully booked.
Minister Walrond said she felt the buzz a distance away for the centre of the celebration and emphasised that Guyana will be placing much emphasis on building a robust local tourism product.
Guyana recently secured the rights to host the next three CPL finals here and Minister Walrond was quick to point out that added to the popular event is a carnival component.
When the event bowls off for the two weeks in September, matches will be hosted in Guyana and during that time, the tourism, industry and commerce minister told the Rodeo revellers in Lethem that some of the biggest names in the regional and entertainment industries will be performing in Guyana.
Guyana, she said, is also establishing itself as a destination to host large conferences and events.
“We are moving further to crystalise our place as the entertainment capital of the region,” minister Walrond said, while pointing out that big events will be strategically hosted to give visitors an opportunity to travel to all the regions of Guyana and to experience the unique Guyanese culture.
Aside from selling Guyana to the world, the government is also hoping that this strategy spreads the “tourism dollar” throughout Guyana.
The objective is not only to attract foreigners to Guyana, the ministry of tourism, industry and commerce wants to see more Guyanese exploring this beautiful country.
“We love our international visitors for sure and we welcome all of you, but we also want Guyanese to be able to experience this exceptional product that Guyana has to offer,” Minister Walrond said.
And from the look things – the booked-out airlines, hotel accommodations and plethora of photos of Rodeo on social media – the message of the tourism ministry is catching on.
This year, the Pakaraima Mountain Safari attracted some 50 participants. The Bartica Regatta in Region Seven was a large party and simultaneously, another big part of Rodeo was held in Lethem even while a major concert was held at the Guyana National Stadium, Providence, East Bank Demerara.
The majority of the major concerts are held in Region Four and minister Walrond is determined to spread the entertainment to other regions, especially when it comes to events that bring people together, such as Rodeo.
“We believe that there is market in the Caribbean for this event and it is very likely that people will come to Guyana just to experience the Rupununi Rodeo,” she said, as she challenged the organisers to build capacity to cater for future growth of the event.
Region Nine, the minister noted, has tremendous tourism potential.
Rainforest and Savannah
North Rupununi is situated in the heart of unspoiled rainforest, while Central and South Rupununi are home to the border town, Lethem, and vast savannah lands and cowboy vibes.
The government continues to invest heavily to enhance the tourism product in the North, South and Central Rupununi, as it understands the benefits of the sector to families and communities there, minister Walrond said.
In Karasabai, the government continues to support the Sun Parakeet Birding Project and works in close collaboration with the community of Toka as part of a wide plan on improving existing tourism destinations. This year will also see upgrades to the Rewa Eco-Lodge and Caiman House.
Communities in Central Rupununi, including Nappi and St Ignatius, minister Walrond said, continue to enjoy the support of the tourism, industry and commerce ministry and this year will also see works being done at the Kumu and Moco Moco falls.
In the South, the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) is working with stakeholders to develop 10 new tourism products and will also provide training and marketing of them.
In addition, some 200 persons from the Rupununi will be trained this year in the culinary arts, events management and as tour guides
President, Dr Irfaan Ali, who also addressed the gathering, said the Rupununi Rodeo is a major national event and when Guyana combines its efforts with South American giant, Brazil, which is next door, it could become a global one.
“This event has an enormous opportunity to be one of the marquee events in the Caribbean. In my opinion, this even has its own appeal and can stand tall, side-by-side, with the best of cricket, the best of racing and we intend to build this event to be the best,” he told the merry gathering.
Making Region Nine a stake in the tourism menu, however, requires investment, a fact the president acknowledged, and shared the good news that a contract has been awarded for the building of all bridges to international standards from Linden all the way to Lethem.
A project has also commenced paving the highway from Linden to Mabura Hill and the government is exploring different options, he said, to continue the work from Mabura Hill to Lethem.