Guyana praised for protecting rain forest
GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Monday April 16, 2012 – Guyana was lauded for its decision to protect is 40 million acres of rain forest, saving about 80 per cent of the country’s natural land asset.
The country came in for high praises from chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Association and Minister of Tourism and International Transport of St. Kitts and Nevis, Mr. Richard Skerritt, during the 13th annual Caribbean conference on Sustainable Tourism held in Guyana.
Mr. Skerrit noted that the world of travel and tourism had changed dramatically over the last 12 years, and the fact that Guyana was the first country to welcome back such a conference was a strong indication that it was still committed to protecting and sustaining its natural resources.
“It is therefore my pleasure today to add to the global applause for the Guyana government and people, for placing such high value on your biodiversity conservation, ecosystem management, and climate change adaptation efforts,” he said.
Mr. Skerritt also pointed out that Guyana’s decision to better manage its vast forest resources and be responsible for its development strategy was attracting greater attention from the world of travel and tourism, especially in the area of adventure-tourism markets.
“It is no accident therefore that the theme chosen for this year’s conference is: Keeping the Right Balance: Sustaining Our Resources. The case of Guyana is a clear example that it is our God-given natural assets and our rich cultural heritage that best distinguish the Caribbean from our competitors, and that responsible tourism is actually good business,” Mr. Skerritt told the opening.
He added that Caribbean countries needed to address the essentials of economic growth and poverty alleviation by adopting a development strategy that was sustainability based.
Mr. Skerritt pointed out that the Guyana could have succumbed to the temptation to expand the extraction of timber and other resources from its rain forests for economic gain, but instead opted to preserve its natural resources.
“Our message is that it is vital that the Caribbean becomes truly dedicated to sustainable tourism practices in order to maximize the economic benefits for all stakeholders, including local communities, businesses, consumers, and governments,” the chairman said.
He stressed that there was a need to ensure that locals and visitors continued to enjoy the wide red-water rivers, spectacular waterfalls, majestic mountains, vast savannas, picturesque landscapes and indigenous wildlife of the Guyana interior.
“Similarly we need to better appreciate and manage the beautiful white, golden and black sandy island coastlines across our region, and show more respect for the value of the rich diversity of the marine ecosystems of our islands.
“The beauty and attractiveness of our forests, coastal zones, and reef ecosystems are major assets in our region’s quest for economic wealth. Let us therefore do whatever is necessary to protect and manage those same assets,” Mr. Skerritt urged.