Tourism and Ecotourism Development in Guyana: Issues and Challenges and the Critical Path Forward
Guyana has high potential to develop a nature-based tourist niche market and help diversify its economic base, which now depends on the export of primary commodities. Despite many natural attractions, Guyana is still at a nascent stage of nature-based development relying on primary factors for tourism development as opposed to thorough planning, focused investments, and aggressive marketing efforts. Other segments of traditional tourism development such as business and leisure also are undeveloped and little studied. The tourism sector in general faces many constraints, such as high air travel cost, inadequate infrastructure, a slew of small-scale lodging properties that are not graded or certified, lack of marketing, and limited government budgetary outlays and incentives that would serve to stimulate development of the sector. Some important steps have been taken to improve competitiveness of the sector, but still a critical mass of interventions has not been realized that can lead to a dramatic transformation. This paper reviews the main issues and challenges and posits that critical path modeling, mathematical programming and spatial economic analysis could be used to identify two or three of the most binding constraints that should be addressed first given budgetary limitations and low levels of private sector investments.