Guyana is increasingly looking at eco-tourism as an economically viable way of preserving and conserving the country's natural environment. Boasting high levels of intact tropical rainforest and biodiversity, Guyana is set apart from many other eco-tourism destinations. Eco-tourism development in Guyana supports socio-economic growth and functions as a sustainable and equitable use of the residing tropical forest ecosystems.
Characteristics of Guyana's Eco-Tourism product
Guyana's tourism product is largely nature based and caters to the individuals who strive for adventure with their travels. Northwestern Guyana consists of miles of undeveloped coast and the habitat for nesting sea turtles. Georgetown, the country's capital city is home to more than 200 bird species. Traveling south into the interior, tourists can enjoy the world's largest single drop waterfall and the Iwokrama million acre wilderness reserve. In the Southwest, the Rupununi savannas are among the world's most bio-diverse wetlands.
A combination of the pristine natural setting, excellent guides and comfortable lodges makes Guyana an ideal location for eco-tourism development. Guyana remains largely unknown as a tourist destination on a global scale. As the tourism market in Guyana gains more exposure, the potential for eco-tourism to play significant role in Guyana's economy strengthens every year. A case in point is the the Iwokrama Rainforest Reserve, a unique experiment in sustainable tropical forestry management and biodiversity conservation which protects 371 000 hectares or 2% of Guyana's total forested area. The Iwokrama forest is a unique resource of natural and human communities. It has an exceptional combination of elements with an appeal to visitors interested in biodiversity, social anthropology and conservation.
Guyana remains a virtual unknown in the global tourism industry and within Guyana, tourism is still in the development stage. Communities cannot depend on tourism without enough visitors to make it possible. Guyana lies far off South America's tourism path but its pristine beauty and immense species diversity are slowly being discovered by adventurous travelers on a global scale.
Although a lack of interior development (the main road through the country remains unpaved) has allowed for the majority of Guyana's interior to remain untarnished, the lack of development functions as an obstacle to support the growing demand for tourism in the country.
"Guyana," Kirk Smock, Brandt Travel Guides, 2010
Above picture: the Canopy Walkway at the Iwokrama International Centre for Rainforest Conservation
- Iwokrama Jaguar Video Project in Guyana
- The World Institute for Conservation and Environment National Parks in Guyana website: http://www.nationalparks-worldwide.info/guyana.htm