Guyana Tourism Authority rolls out “Safe for Travel” plan
The objective of the scheme is to protect the areas most affected and vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as to ensure the health and safety of the travelers
- New plan to open up tourism and ensure communities and travelers remain protected
- National COVID-19 Task Force to assess tourism businesses
- The reopening is currently in phase three which has seen the expansion of commercial flights
The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) has launched a new marketing messaging tied to its revamped inspection process due to COVID-19 titled “Safe for Travel” that sees the tourism body, given the authority by the National COVID-19 Task Force, to assess tourism businesses to ensure they are operating within the National COVID-19 Gazetted Safety Measures and in a position to welcome the return of domestic and international travel. The objective of the scheme is to protect the areas most affected and vulnerable to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as ensure that the health and safety of the traveler is always front-of-mind as the destination reopens to tourism.
In response to coronavirus, the Government of Guyana cancelled all international passenger flights beginning 18 March 2020, however the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has since launched a phased re-opening approach. Details of which are as follows:
Phase 1 – 18 March – 11 October 2020: Repatriation flights.
- Phase 2 – 12 October 2020: Limited incoming commercial flights for Guyanese citizens, permanent residents, international travelers, international workers and diplomats.
- Phase 3 – November 2020 (in place as of January 2021): Expansion of incoming commercial flights that allow foreign nationals and international travelers to enter Guyana.
- Phase 4 – TBC: Expansion of inbound and outbound flights to provide more service for inbound and outbound tourists.
As of January 2021, this reopening is currently in phase three which has seen the expansion of commercial flights that now allow foreign nationals and international travellers to enter Guyana. With this comes risk that the virus could spread from visitors to some of Guyana’s most vulnerable communities in a country that has seen relatively low case rates throughout the pandemic.
To protect these communities and the general population, travellers to Guyana are required to present a negative PCR test from an accredited lab. Negative tests from within 72 hours of arrival will be allowed to pass through the airport. However, if the PCR test is done within four to seven days of travel, the passenger will be required to do another PCR test upon arrival in Guyana and present a negative test. It should be noted that if a passenger is required to take a test in Guyana, it will come at their expense at a cost of GY$16,000 (approx. £56).
The ‘Safe For Travel’ scheme has been put in place as a further measure to protect the Guyanese population, including vulnerable communities, and travelers alike. Tourism businesses are assessed in a two-step procedure. First, they must submit their Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) detailing how the business has adjusted its practices and adopted new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Once the SOP has been submitted, the GTA will carry out an inspection on the business to ensure they are meeting the criteria as follows:
1.Signage (hand wash, mask wearing and social distancing)
2.Temperature Monitoring (calibrated thermometer temperature checks)
3.Sanitisation – practices and products in use
6. Monitoring – how the business plans to monitor the effectiveness of its SOP
Once a tourism business has been assessed and deemed to be COVID-19 compliant by the GTA and National COVID-19 Task Force, approval is granted for the business to begin operating once again.
In addition to these newer measures, the GTA was able to provide COVID-19 Support Packages to indigenous communities tied to the tourism value chain earlier in the pandemic. Communities that are actively in the tourism licensing process and working with the GTA benefited from a package that included recommended Ecolab cleaning and sanitation products, infrared thermometers, cloth and sewing supplies for creating masks, knapsack sprayers to disinfect buildings and luggage etc, and signage on COVID-19. For communities not actively involved in tourism, the packages included sanitation products, cloth and sewing supplies for creating masks and signage on COVID-19. The support packages were delivered with a training session done by Ecolab and Ministry of Health representatives as well as the GTA.