How to Sell: Guyana
Set between the Atlantic coast and the Amazon rainforest, exotic Guyana presents an intriguing smorgasbord of cultural and natural attractions, says Laura Gelder
Why sell it?
This small, multicultural nation has long been a member of both the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Latin American Travel Association (LATA) – since it straddles both regions – but it recently announced it is to get UK representation in a bid to boost its visibility.
Who to sell to?
Guyana isn’t well known but for agents with clients who wish to get off the well-trodden tourist paths, or for devoted wildlife or ecotravel enthusiasts, it has a strong appeal.
How to sell it?
Guyana has enough to occupy travellers for a standalone holiday but most operators combine it with other countries. Journey Latin America (journeylatinamerica.co.uk) offers the 'Coq of the Rock: Trailblazing the Guineas' itinerary which takes in Rio and Boa Vista in Brazil before heading to Guyana, French Guiana and the ex Dutch colony Suriname.
Meanwhile, Rainbow Tours (rainbowtours.co.uk) matches Guyana with Tobago, with three days on a Caribbean beach rounding off an adventure-packed itinerary nicely.
The country can be reached via connecting flights through Caribbean Airlines from Toronto, New York and Miami, LIAT in Barbados, Copa Airlines in Panama, and now American Airlines, which starts a Miami-Guyana service on November 16.
What to sell?
Bordered by Venezuela, Brazil, Suriname and the Atlantic Ocean, Guyana is a melting pot of East Indian and African influences but also peppered with indigenous Amerindians, Europeans (it has a history of British colonialism), and Chinese.
In its capital, Georgetown, British colonial architecture and Hindu temples sit side by side and the food ranges from Caribbean goat stews to Indian curries.
With a staggeringly varied topography for such a small country, Guyana boasts rugged mountains, tumbling waterfalls and vast swathes of jungle, savannas and mountains inland, while its unspoilt coastline mixes beaches with wildlife reserves, mangroves and sugar plantations.
Travellers can head to the jungle by boat, travelling up the Essequibo River to stay in eco-lodges, explore trails and look for wildlife accompanied by a ranger.
Twitchers and amateur naturalists will be in heaven with Guyana's rich flora and fauna. There are more than 225 species of mammals, 800-plus species of birds and some 6,500 varieties of plants. Guyana is
“Guyana is the only country in South America
where English is the official language, though
many dialects and indigenous languages
are also spoken”
Colin Stewart, Chairman, LATA
home to some of South America’s largest species, including black caiman, capybara, green anaconda, giant river otter, false vampire bat, harpy eagle and jaguar.
There's also a chance to meet indigenous Amerindian communities and learn a little about their culture.
At five times the height of Niagara Falls, Kaieteur Falls is Guyana's best-known attraction. Other jewels include the wild Shell Beach, with its nesting turtles, ecolodges and wildlife spotting along the Essequibo River, the cowboy culture of the Rupununi Savannah; and the misty flat-tops of the Pakaraima Mountains.
When to go?
Equatorial Guyana is hot year-round, with an average temperature of around 27C and high humidity that peaks in the rainy season. There are distinct climatic differences between the coastal belt and the interior.
The coast is cooled by sea breezes and has a wet season from mid-November to mid-January and then May to mid-July.
Inland, heavy rains arrive May-August when savannas flood and rivers can rise
30ft. There are lighter showers towards the end of December, dubbed the ‘cashew rains’, as they occur during the nut harvest.
What do the experts say?
Colin Stewart, Chairman of LATA, reports a 6% increase in Guyana's 2017 tourist arrivals, and puts the rise down to new tourism infrastructure, including three new hotels and the introduction of a new indigenous experience and authentic ecolodge in Warapoka, north Guyana, due to start this autumn 2018. An expanded airport in Georgetown and a new flight connection by American Airlines will open it up further.
"Welcoming little more than 3,000 visitors a year, Guyana is ideal for those who want an experience away from the crowds. The Guyana Tourism Board is taking steps to strengthen its position as a leading sustainable tourism destination," he said.
“An ideal destination for UK visitors seeking an offthe-beaten path experience, Guyana is emerging as
a new hot spot for adventurous UK travellers”
Colin Stewart, Chairman of LATA
A RED-HANDED TAMARIN MONKEY
A GIANT RIVER OTTER