Destination Amazonia Year
By Priya Nauth
Two thousand and nine is here and one of the most significant activities for this year on the tourism front is ‘Destination Amazonia Year’, to propel the Amazon region, teeming with immense value, richness and uniqueness in the world, into a more recognised tourism destination.
Guyana, with its colossal ecological and adventure tourism potential, stands to benefit significantly from ‘Destination Amazonia Year Protected content . The Republic is home to thousands of rare and unique species of flora and fauna, with a diverse ecosystem, unique tourism attractions, branding itself as ‘Guyana – the Amazon Adventure’.
This tourism initiative by Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organisation (ACTO) is in collaboration with the eight member countries that are signatories to the Treaty for Amazon Cooperation – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
Established by an international treaty in Protected content , ACTO’s mission is to promote the integrated and sustainable development of the Amazon region, and derives from the awareness that the region of Amazonia, although possessing abundant and unique tourism attractions and strong international name recognition, was still lightly visited.
The promotion aims at accelerating the development of sustainable tourism in the Amazon and making people living there more aware of what lies within their borders.
The Protected content Plan of ACTO, developed with inputs from the countries, international organisations, technical experts, civil society organisations and local communities, commits the organisation to pursuing a number of approaches to the sustainable development of the Amazon region.
The cornerstone of the Strategic Plan is the elaboration of sustainable approaches to development in the crucial areas of life in the Amazon, including water, soils and protected natural areas, biodiversity and bio-trade, health, education, science, technology, indigenous affairs and tourism.
Although the Amazon represents more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world, the reality is that it is lightly visited and acknowledged in the international tourism marketplace.
Deemed as the year to engage in the celebration of Amazonia, Protected content undoubtedly expected to be of great significance for the Amazon region and will market Guyana and the other Amazon countries under a common brand, and help to give value to the image of these countries.
The designation of Protected content Destination Amazonia Year is therefore a collaborative initiative aimed at raising the profile of the region as a tourism destination and attracting increased numbers of responsible visitors to the Amazon in Protected content beyond.
A calendar of activities has been developed to promote and present the region as a tourism destination on the international market.
Among these are the Miss Tourism Amazonian Pageant, the International World of the Amazon Tourism Fair, the first Annual ACTO Award Ceremony for Sustainable Tourism, Amazon Tourism Awareness Week, for which all eight countries of the Amazon will be participating, trails of the Amazon expeditions; and a Trans-Amazon 4 by 4 rally.
These events, in their range and diversity, are intended to introduce visitors to the ‘body and soul’ of the Amazon – its cuisine, authentic cultural forms, biodiversity, ecological richness, magnificent landscapes, spectacular bird and animal life and engaging inhabitants.
The Amazon which encompasses 1.2 billion acres, is a natural wonder as diverse as it is vast, with over Protected content people living in the eight Amazon countries with over Protected content groups living in the Amazon rainforest speaking Protected content languages. The Amazonian rainforests have unparalleled biodiversity, with one fifth of the world’s fresh water supply and one in ten known species in the world living in the Amazon Rainforest, constituting the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. About 2.5 million insect species, tens of thousands of plants and some Protected content and mammals, and at least 40,000 plant species, 3,000 fishes, 1,294 birds, Protected content , 428 amphibians, and Protected content have been scientifically classified in the region.
Exotic natural haven
In an exclusive interview with Guyana Chronicle, Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Mr. Manniram Prashad, noted that Guyana was marketed more as a Caribbean destination, but there has been a noticeable shift in demand towards nature-based tourism.
The minister also acknowledged that although the Amazon represents more than half of the planet’s remaining rainforests and comprises the largest and most species-rich tract of tropical rainforest in the world, the reality is that it is lightly visited and acknowledged in the international tourism marketplace.
“Guyana will derive significant advantages and benefits from its participation in this initiative which will see an increase in national revenues and local incomes, and improve the livelihood of those impacted by tourism,” Prashad reiterated.
He said the ACTO goal, which is to thrust sustainable tourism, is in harmony with Guyana’s mission to protect the rainforest. Guyana is one of the few countries worldwide really practicing forest conservation.
The minister cited Iwokrama, with nearly one million acres of preserved pristine rainforest, which is being utilised to demonstrate to the world the sustainable use of it.
“It is an exotic natural haven and one of the four last immaculate tropical forests in the world. Its ecosystem is an amazing habitat of the best quality of biodiversity, which are either threatened or extinct in most of their former geographic territories,” Prashad stated.
Lungs of the world
Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), Mr. Indranauth Haralsingh, during an interview with the Guyana Chronicle, noted, “ACTO is an example of regional integration.”
He noted there is a growing interest in nature travel and the Amazon, which is described as the lungs of the world, has to take advantage of this being the most biodiverse region in the world.
The GTA Director recalled that Destination Amazonia Year Protected content first launched at the world’s largest trade show, the International Travel Bourst in Berlin, Germany, last year, and also at the World Trade Market in November Protected content London.
Among the notable expectations for this tourism initiative, he outlined, are higher profile and visibility for the Amazon in the world tourism marketplace; increased number of visitors within and to the Amazon; increased revenues and job creation; increased actions to integrate tourism routes in the Amazon; and creating a brand identity for the Amazon.
At the end of its all, he said, the legacy of Destination Amazonia Protected content be, “the creation of a tourism brand for the Amazon.”
He highlighted that the major calendar events hosted by Guyana for Destination Amazonia Year Protected content the Pakaraimas Mountain Safari; the Rupununi Rodeo; Mashramani; Rockstone Fish Festival; and an International Eco Tourism Conference.
He said Guyana also participated in the launch at the World Travel Market in London last year.
Notable highlights of this tourism initiative will be the first Biannual Sustainable tourism award in an effort to promote (through example and rewards) the adoption of best practices in tourism operations and a photographic competition, he stated.
The competition will cater for both professional and amateur photographers in three categories: landscapes, peoples and culture and flora; and the best 30 entries will then form part of an Amazon-wide photographic exhibition.
Expressing optimism for the future of the Amazon, Haralsingh said the Amazon is a natural fit for Guyana’s tourism product which ties into the whole theme of conservation and preservation of the forests.
He said this year’s GuyExpo will also focus on promoting the Amazon and the GTA has printed brochures and in-flight videos to promote this important activity.