Responsible tourism is a two-way street. A destination, such as ourselves, has a responsibility to maintain the authenticity and integrity of our natural and cultural attractions. They are, after all, the reasons you visit Guyana in the first place.
You, the traveller, have a shared responsibility to help us in our mission to ensure tourism generates positive socio-economic and conservation outcomes by doing your part. We’ll get to that later, but for now, don’t worry, it’s nothing that will lessen your vacation fun. In fact, it will add to it.
With our recent move into the limelight, and tremendous endowment of bio- and cultural diversity, Guyana has found its way onto a number of international travellers’ bucket lists. This is hardly surprising. An increasing number of travellers are seeking out unspoiled destinations, and Guyana’s exotic wildlife, vast open savannahs, pristine rainforests and rich thriving culture make it a natural for eco-tourism enthusiasts. Our recent recognition as the World’s #1 Best Ecotourism destination (at ITB-Berlin) and the top Sustainable Adventure Destination (at WTM) simply confirms what many travellers already know.
Guyana is one of the few countries in the world where indigenous tourism is a primary offering and focal point. Surama Eco-lodge, Rewa Eco-lodge, and Caiman House Field Station & Guest House act as the blueprint for sustainable, community-led and owned tourism. The host communities own the enterprises, which results in all of the residents receiving economic benefits. What’s equally beneficial is that the host communities have an incentive to protect wildlife and preserve their traditional culture.
As a manifestation of our country-wide commitment sustainable development, in May of 2019, the Government of Guyana implemented its Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040. This national policy reflects the guiding vision and principles of our long-standing Green Agenda. The central objective is development that provides a better quality of life for all Guyanese derived from the country’s natural wealth – its diversity of people and wealth of natural heritage. The Vision 2040 strategy recognises the elements that make Guyana a unique, sustainable tourism destination, and vows to preserve them.
Now it’s your turn. In Guyana, you can have the natural and cultural experience of a lifetime. All we ask is you help out with some sustainable, eco-friendly tourism practices during your stay.
Choose a Low-Carbon Adventure. Carbon emissions are often an unavoidable aspect of travel. However, Guyana does have options. Instead of taking a plane to Kaieteur Falls, for example, why not go overland and experience the beauty of a 3- to 5-day trek to this majestic beauty? Rainforest Tours is just one of the more popular tour operators that provide multi-day treks.
Travel in small groups. Smaller groups tend to have less of an environmental and socio-cultural impact on the communities they visit. Before you book, ask what size the group will be so that you can plan your trip accordingly.
Get permission. Before visiting any of the indigenous community eco-lodges, you need to have permission. Your tour operator should take care of this. Once there, remember to ask about and adhere to the village’s code of conduct.
Stay on course. When hiking and exploring our wilderness areas, always follow your guide’s instructions and the rules when visiting our parks and protected areas. Going “off the beaten path” means an increased risk of encountering poisonous plants and dangerous animals and accidentally distressing animals and bird life.
Pack responsibly. Overpacking contributes to the weight limits of small planes - the heavier the plane, the more carbon emissions it produces. You can find a packing guide for your Guyana adventure here to inform you on how best to lighten your load.
Avoid single-use plastic. It’s relatively easy to avoid using single-use plastic bags, bottles, and containers if you plan ahead. The marine life of Guyana, particularly the sea turtles, is greatly affected by plastic waste. When possible, use reusable bags, water bottles, and food containers. Eco-lodges encourage this practice through the use of water stations.
Try Slow Travel. The Backyard Cafe in Georgetown implemented a bicycle rental service for cycle lovers. Or consider walking to and from your destination. Self-propelled travel keeps you fit, cuts costs, and enriches your experience with opportunities to interact with locals.
Practice water and energy conservation. Reduce your water and energy consumption in your hotel room or lodge as you would at home. Turn off air conditioners, water and lights, unplug appliances when not in use. Also, avoid having your linens and towels laundered when not necessary.
Following these and other simple steps can help ensure your visit has a positive impact on Guyana, the local people you meet and the places you visit.
Guyana is working hard to protect our vibrant wildlife, ecosystems, and our culture and heritage. We all know positive and low impact travel practices can support all of these things, and we can all do our part.