Visitors to the Greenheart Trust’s stand were keen to see Guyana’s forests and wildlife in ecologically sensitive ways and to leave Guyana’s natural heritage intact for future generations. A number of visitors have repeated their desire to deal direct with local ecotourism providers and ensure that the benefits of tourism remain in the country.
Hundreds of visitors to the Greenheart Trust stand have been referred to tourism operators looking to do business in Guyana. In response to demand at this bird watching fair the Greenheart trust is developing a package for visitors to support the work of local conservationists.
The Greenheart Trust is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Guyana’s biological diversity and works exclusively through local conservation organisations.
GUYANA - EMERGING DESTINATION OF CHOICE
Guyana is a destination of choice for British birdwatchers - 95% of the birdwatchers interviewed at the British Birdwatching Fair said they wanted to visit Guyana. The British Birdwatching Fair, one of the biggest in the world, was held in England last month. The market research was carried out by the Greenheart Trust in the form of surveys and interviews over the three day period of the bird fair. Visitors were asked a series of questions and invited to make additional comments, with follow up telephone interviews in some cases.
Every one of the interviewees said they were interested in conservation in Guyana. Over 95% of the interviewees wanted to visit Guyana. The reason? They were keen to see wildlife in unspoilt surroundings. Although this was primarily a fair for birdwatchers, virtually all of the interviewees were interested in seeing other fauna as well.
Among the birding enthusiasts there was particular interest in charismatic species such as the harpy eagle, the red sisking and Guyana's national bird the Canje pheasant. The overwhelming majority of those interviewed said they would prefer to book their own flights to Guyana. Less than ten percent said they would need someone to do it for them.
Over half of the interviewees said they would prefer to travel without a tour operator and make arrangements when they arrived in Guyana.
According to one interviewee, "People are really impressed when they hear you've been to Guyana - it's still very exotic. Some interviewees said they felt forced to use UK companies because they could not contact or evaluate local companies. They asked for the Guyana High Commission in London to put out a list of credible Guyanese offering tours and accommodation in Guyana.
Of those who require a tour operator the majority said they would prefer to use Guyanese owned and operated tourism businesses and services. According to one interviewee, “the money should go to locals”. Others felt that they would get better information and better service if they dealt directly with the local people providing the trips and accommodation rather than going through a marketing company or overseas tour operator.
However, two other interviewees expressed the view that persistently negative press coverage discourages people from visiting.
The majority expressed a preference for customised tours to meet their particular interests.
The majority of interviewees said they would prefer not to go with tour groups. According to some, group travel does not give them the flexibility they require. Others indicated that they regarded tour groups as a slightly down market way to travel.
Independent travel is the future.
There was strong feedback that tourism should not damage the environment.
BRITISH BIRDWATCHING FAIR - GUYANA'S SUCCESS
Birding and wildlife enthusiasts thronged the Guyana stand sponsored by the Greenheart Trust at the British Birdwatching Fair in August. With the Golden Arrowhead flying proudly, the stand provided a wealth of information on Guyana’s natural heritage. Checklists of exotic tropical birds, maps, posters and a special display on the Iwokrama protected area attracted visitors from the moment the fair opened. Also available for the first time were checklists of the birds of Guyana’s coastland, compiled by Andy Narine of the Guyana Amazon Tropical Birds Society, and checklists of the birds of Karanambu compiled by Kenneth Mandook, a highly experienced bird guide based at Karanambu. Up to date information on birds along the northwest coast was provided by the Guyana Marine Turtle Conservation Society.
Visitors were invited to make themselves at home, to relax on the sofa and enjoy a good chat with the Guyana delegation: Melinda Janki (Greenheart Trust), Duane de Freitas (Rupununi Trails/Dadanawa), Diane McTurk (Karanambu), Justin de Freitas (South Rupununi Conservation Society), Pip Hiscocks (Dadanawa), Indira Anandjit (Guyana Tourism Authority), Tino de Freitas (Guyana Amazon Tropical Birds Society). We were amazed at the number of people who are keen to experience the unique magic of Guyana’s hinterland.
For some visitors this was literally the first time for them that Guyana was on the map.
Diane McTurk of the Karanambu Trust was specially invited by the fair’s organisers to give a presentation on her twenty year project to preserve giant otters in Southern Guyana. Diane’s work has generated a great deal of interest internationally and this presentation was a unique opportunity for British friends and fans to catch up with her in person. The Karanambu Trust was established to conserve the habitats and wildlife of the north Rupununi with a special emphasis on the giant otter. It is supported by the Greenheart Trust.
Visits: If you would like to visit Karanambu and enjoy the magnificent wildlife of the North Rupununi please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The visual highlight of the fair was provided by Duane de Freitas of Rupununi Trails and Dadanawa Ranch. Duane’s slide show of Guyana’s wildlife including the world’s largest spider was surpassed only by his unique video footage of a giant anaconda swallowing a seven foot boa constrictor (which had in turn just swallowed a three foot iguana!)
Duane’s knowledge of Guyana’s hinterland is unsurpassed. Many visitors to our Guyana stand were interested in taking a river expedition with him into the remote uninhabited regions of Southern Guyana. Dadanawa is one of the largest working ranches in the world. It also provides a home and other support to our partner the South Rupununi Conservation Society.
Visits: If you would like to visit Dadanawa Ranch or take a river trip please email Duane on email@example.com or Sandy on firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Rupununi Conservation Society/ Guyana Amazon Tropical Birds Society
We were delighted that our partners were able to send delegates to help man the Greenheart Trust stand and promote conservation of Guyana’s magnificent natural heritage. Follow up meetings in the UK with international conservation organisations have been very fruitful - we will keep you posted.
The South Rupununi Conservation Society focuses on conserving the wildlife and habitats of the South Rupununi in partnership with local communities. The Greenheart Trust supports SRCS in its work particularly its project to conserve the endangered red siskin.
The Guyana Amazon Tropical Birds Society is currently monitoring and recording bird species in Guyana in order to produce reliable and up to date scientific information. With support from the Greenheart Trust, GATBS has produced checklists and data for various species and areas of Guyana. This information has been shared with the tourism sector. The Greenheart Trust also supports the GATBS in its outreach work with at-risk youth.
If you would like to know more about SRCS or GATBS please see our website: www.greenhearttrust.org
Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) www.guyana-tourism.com
GTA was a very welcome guest in the Greenheart Trust stand for Guyana. GTA is the only body with the knowledge and authority to market Guyana as a tourist destination. The Greenheart Trust and the GTA are committed to working together to develop a tourism product that benefits Guyana.
From the fair, Ms Indira Anandjit, the Director of the GTA said, “The GTA is extremely pleased to be a partner and a part of the Greenheart Trust stand working together to promote Guyana. The Greenheart Trust and the GTA have a shared objective to promote responsible eco-tourism and the preservation of Guyana’s magnificent natural and cultural heritage. GTA acknowledges that had it not been for the Greenheart Trust we would not have been able to participate and we are extremely grateful to the Greenheart Trust. We do believe that the outcome of this cooperation was very, very positive for Guyana based on the response from the public.”