Diane McTurk with her otters at Karanambu Lodge, which won the Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award (Kirk Smock photo)
Guyana has emerged as the biggest winners at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) /Travelmole Sustainable Tourism Awards, in Trinidad and Tobago during the Sustainable Tourism Conference (STC14) on April 15-18.
According to a release by the Tourism Ministry, this is the third year in a row that Destination Guyana has carted off major awards at the STC, including the Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award. Of the five nominations submitted, Guyana received the Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award – this was won by Karanambu Lodge; the Biodiversity Conservation Award, which went to the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society; and the Heritage Award, which was awarded to National Trust of Guyana.
“We are proud of the winners who have worked hard to ensure that their businesses and practices fit in to the country’s overall sustainable development agenda. This is indeed a poignant moment for all of Guyana. Congratulations to all of Guyana on this significant achievement,” acting Tourism Minister Irfaan Ali proudly announced.
The other awards up for grabs included Destination Stewardship, which was won by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company; the Best Sustainable Tourism Accommodation, which was awarded to Tryall Club & Villas in Jamaica; and the Community Benefit Award, which went to Bowden Pen Farmers’ Association in Jamaica.
Guyana’s tourism product is the “strongest”
Alluding to the significance of this accomplishment, Minister Ali said, “The fact that we won three of the five awards at the STC 14 is further proof that our product is the strongest. This sends an important message to the international community, to international tourists and groups of tourists that look for eco-adventure, nature, adventure, and sustainable tourism…The haven for sustainable tourism resides in Guyana,” Minister Ali noted that with this added recognition, the country can move forward on the progressive frontier of advancing our eco-tourism product and remaining the most outstanding sustainable tourism destination in the region.
Pointing to this year’s awardees, he noted that they all fit into very tight criteria of ensuring that their product is sustainable, that they protect the environment, and they integrate the environment in the development of their product.
Leaders in sustainable tourism
Meanwhile, the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) Director Indranauth Haralsingh, who is in Trinidad for the STC 14 Conference, also recognised the importance of the wins, as Guyana cements its commitment to leading the region in sustainable development.
He said, “We are one step closer to achieving our vision of being the leaders in sustainable tourism development. Winning the top three awards here, with three recognitions, makes Guyana the leader among the 34 CTO members. Guyana is the only country to have gained a place and a winner in each category,” Haralsingh noted that the achievement demonstrates the nation’s focus on using the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) as our blueprint for conservation and sustainable development. According to the GTA director, these awards are strategic marketing tools which will help to boost and position Guyana as a leader in sustainable travel.
“Congrats to all our winners Guyana is the buzz word at STC 14. This will generate tremendous coverage and promotion for Destination Guyana!” Haralsingh added.
Setting the precedent in 2011, Surama Eco Lodge won the Excellence in Sustainable Tourism for Guyana, jointly with Harrison Caves in Barbados. Then in 2012, the country won three of the five top tourism awards at the 13th Sustainable Tourism Conference hosted in Guyana, from April 15-18. Then, Guyana’s Rupununi region won the 2012 Caribbean Excellence in Sustainable Tourism Award; the Iwokrama International Centre was presented with the Community Benefit Award; and Guyana’s Mangrove Reserve Women Producers’ Project won the Biodiversity Award.