A NUMBER of local hospitality enterprises and personalities were honoured at an awards ceremony held last Tuesday evening at the Ramada Princess Hotel.
The event, which was co-hosted by the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana (THAG) and Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA), saw veteran hotelier, Paul Stephenson being named the Hall of Fame inductee for 2019. The bodies also named him and Donald Sinclair, another veteran in the tourism business, this year’s Leader in Tourism winners.
The event successfully brought the curtains down on Tourism Awareness Month, which was observed this year under the theme, ‘Tourism is a force for good in Guyana’.
The revelation that Stephenson and Sinclair were the winners in their respective categories was met with resounding applause from the audience, as did the announcement of the names of the 13 other awardees in the various categories.
Stephenson, who first came to Guyana in 1986 for what was meant to be a two-year stint with the then Pegasus Hotel, is still here with us 33 years later, and very much committed to both country and the local tourism industry.
The other awardees were: Cara Lodge: ‘Best in Accommodation (Hotel)’; Arrow Point Nature Resort: ‘Best in Accommodation (Interior Resort)’; Bistro Café and Bar: ‘Best Dining Restaurant of the Year’; Karasabai Village: ‘Best Emerging Tourism Destination Community of the Year’; Wichabai Ranch: ‘New Tourism Product or Experience of the Year’; Visit Guyana: ‘Tourism Supporting Services Award Reel’; South Rupununi Conservation Society: ‘Most Outstanding Contribution to Tourism by NGO/Volunteer Group’; Wilderness Explorers: ‘Best in Tour: Tour Outfitter/Destination Committee of the Year’; Wichabai Ranch: ‘Tourism Investment of the Year’; Bistro Café and Bar: ‘Best in-Service Excellence and Hospitality’; Karanambo Trust and Lodge: ‘Best in Sustainable Tourism’; and John Christian and Leroy Ignacio: ‘Best Emerging Tour Guide’ and ‘Best Senior Tour Guide’ respectively.
The awardees were selected based on two categories: The People’s Choice Awards for three categories: Hotel of the Year, Interior Lodge or Resort of the Year, and Restaurant of the Year. They were given based on the total number of votes derived from the public.
The Industry Awards for 12 nominees were based on public nominations and justifications, and the strength and volume of the justifications to support the nomination for the category in question. They were all selected by the GTA-THAG judging panel.
THAG President Mitra Ramkumar, in commending the Authority for its outstanding work, noted that in 2019, Guyana copped six international awards, including the top spot for ‘Best in Ecotourism’, and made the Conde Nast list of ‘20 Best Places to Visit in 2020’.
PLANS FOR 2020
He alluded to several plans the Authority has on its 2020 agenda, such as working with the police to ensure the efficient handling of incidents involving guests, contractors, the property of its members and others; the development of sports tourism; expanding the Tourism Development Fund for tour operators; establishing the Hospitality Institute with the Education Ministry, and partnering with Impressions to erect an ‘I love Guyana’ sign in central Georgetown.
“The sign, he said, “is intended to serve as a gathering point for visitors who wish to celebrate their travel here through the sharing of photographs and videos via social media. It will also create a positive image of Guyana. This will be the first of its kind here, and it will also foster patriotism.”
He said, too, that figures show that Guyana has surpassed the US$1M mark in the advertising equivalent value for earned media in North America, The United Kingdom and Germany.
GTA’s Brian Mullis said the Authority is excited to be working closely with THAG to co-host the 2019 Awards Ceremony, and aims to make the event more meaningful, inclusive and impactful.
Minister of Business Haimraj Rajkumar commended the GTA and THAG for hosting the awards ceremony and thanked the stakeholders for their efforts to develop the local tourism industry. “We in government salute the courage and determination of our local entrepreneurs in developing this challenging but important sector, and the GTA Awards 2019 is a way of recognising the contributions of some of our brave entrepreneurs,” he remarked.
An interpretive dance presentation by two representatives of Unique Arts; a beautiful rendition of ‘Oh Beautiful Guyana by Bethany, Essequibo resident, Mr. Myron Thomas, also a Medex attached to the Kumaka Health Centre who accompanied himself on guitar; and a dance by a representative of Worship in Spirit and Trust (WIST) Guyana, provided much entertainment during the event, which also included a sumptuous dinner.
At the conclusion of the event, each guest was given the opportunity to take one of several small plants that were used as centre-piece décor for the respective tables.