Guyana was awarded the Destination Stewardship Award by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) during the Carib-bean Sustainable Tourism Awards on Thursday in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) yesterday announced the conferral of the award, which took place during a ceremony at the Caribbean Sustainable Development Conference.
“We are extremely honoured to have received this award. Guyana, through the work of the Guyana Tourism Authority and its partners, has expended considerable effort in recent years to incorporate sustainable tourism best practice into all aspects of its tourism strategy, policy, planning and programming,” Carla James, Deputy Director of the GTA, who was present at the event, was quoted as saying in a GTA media release yesterday.
“We are committed to maximising the positive socioeconomic and conservation outcomes from tourism and to continue to be stewards of Destination Guyana,” she added.
The GTA noted that the CTO’s awards identify and showcase sustainable tourism good practices in CTO’s 26 member destinations. It explained, “The awards recognise individuals, groups, organisations or companies in any of the CTO’s member countries that are implementing initiatives that embrace sustainable tourism concepts and core values. These initiatives should also help to enhance the country’s tourism product offerings and advance sustainable and responsible tourism in the Caribbean.”
The Destination Stewardship Award, the GTA added, highlights a country, region, town, village or community that is making solid strides towards sustainable tourism management at the destination-level. It said, “Recipients of the award are recognised for ongoing and integrated initiatives and programs designed to improve sustainable tourism planning and promote the widespread adoption of good practices, ensure multi-stakeholder engagement, address social and community issues, foster economic linkages, preserve cultural heritage and protect the environment.”
The six judging criteria for the award comprise contribution to: improving the long-term competitiveness of tourism businesses and destinations; enhancing the well-being of communities as healthy places to visit, live and invest; preserving and conserving cultural, historical and natural heritage; promoting a sense of place and authenticity; involving tourism stakeholders in decision-making; and communicating and promoting sustainable tourism good practices to other tourism stakeholders.
The GTA release said the judging committee selected Guyana as the winner of this award for its “impressive sustainable tourism practices and community-led tourism framework which promotes job creation, helps preserve local traditions and customs, promotes low-carbon lifestyles and provides a livelihood for indigenous communities.”
Guyana has been making sizable strides in all areas highlighted, according to the GTA, which added that this includes expanding community-led and owned tourism and sustainable tourism offerings through a partnership with the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs and four villages; fostering inter-ministerial and stakeholder collaboration to preserve the natural and cultural heritage treasures of Guyana and support sustainable tourism development; and maintaining and building on its authentic tourism offerings and natural landscapes. “This reflects the Guyana Tourism Authority’s strategic focus on adopting sustainable destination management, development, and marketing best practices as part of all of its operations and programmes,” it added.
Karanambu Lodge was also named the Sustainable Accommodation Award Winner at the awards. Melanie McTurk accepted the award for the Lodge.
The GTA also said the CTO award demonstrates Guyana’s long-standing commitment to a Green State Agenda and the global branding benefits associated with its efforts to become a leading sustainable destination. It reminded that in March this year, Guyana was recognised as the world’s “Best in Ecotourism” and one of the Top 10 Sustainable Destinations by the Green Destination Foundation and ITB Berlin, and it also received recognition for the best destination video at the Golden City Gate Foundation at ITB. Also, in June, Guyana was recognised as the “Best in Sustainable Tourism” by the Latin American Travel Association (LATA), the GTA added.