CARIFESTA visitors could beat World Cup numbers

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, June 26, 2008 – The Guyana government is projecting that the Caribbean Festival of Arts (CARIFESTA) being held here later this year could bring more visitors to the country than the Cricket World Cup matches in 2007.
President Bharrat Jagdeo said there is much interest within and outside the region in the tenth CARIFESTA, scheduled for August 22-31, and all indications pointed to large numbers.

“The Canadians are bringing down a team. I’ve seen a large interest in New York and they’re coming here. I saw in the newspapers in Trinidad and Tobago that they are going to spend over a US$1 million to send their delegation down – a huge delegation of about 150 persons,” he said.

President Jagdeo said other countries have shown interest in the event, adding that over 1,500 persons have registered to participate as delegates.

“We expect many more to come and to participate and to enjoy the festivities so it could probably be bigger than World Cup Cricket in terms of foreigners being present in Guyana,” he contended.

Mr Jagdeo sought to make it clear that Guyana has already put together “solid security arrangements” for the festival and visitors therefore had no need to fear.

“We have put together solid security arrangements for World Cup Cricket, for the RIO Group summit and for the hosting of the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting. I don’t see any reason why we can’t put together solid security arrangements for CARIFESTA too,” he said.

His comments come on the heels of a travel advisory issued by the Canadian government, urging its citizens to be very careful when visiting Guyana and listing a number of “dangerous zones”.

“Canadians should exercise a high degree of caution, at all times in Guyana, due to high crime of levels,” it said in the advisory updated less than a week ago.

Although not responding directly to that warning, President Jagdeo has urged that any negativity about CARIFESTA be dismissed.

CARIFESTA has returned to Guyana, where it was first held in its post-independence format in 1972, after the Bahamas government indicated that it would not have enough time to prepare to host it.