Record-breaking 2023 visitor influx to Guyana equates to 40% of country’s population

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With growing appeal as a travel destination, new oil producer Guyana recorded a record-breaking influx of tourists in 2023. The number, 319,056, equates to 40% of the country’s total population.

This not only surpassed the previous record of 314,727 set in 2019 but also marked a substantial 10.7% increase from 2022. This achievement is particularly notable considering the country’s mid-2023 population of approximately 778,400.

Speaking at the presentation of the 2024 national budget on Monday, Dr. Ashni Singh, Guyana’s finance minister, attributed this tourism growth to strategic improvements in the sector, including enhanced air connectivity and increased hotel room capacity. 

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“The volume and cost of airlift into Guyana has historically been one of the key factors constraining growth in the tourism sector,” Singh said. “In order to ensure the expansion of airline routes and seat volumes, our Government has maintained efforts to improve connectivity between Guyana and the rest of the world with new services and routes.”

For instance, British Airways commenced a twice-weekly service from London via St. Lucia in March 2023, significantly improving connectivity with the Caribbean and Europe. Similarly, Canada JetLines, in partnership with FlyAllways, began a service to Toronto via the Dominican Republic in September 2023, while Suriname Airways launched a Bridgetown-Georgetown-Paramaribo route in December 2023.

These additions brought an extra 150,234 seats to the market, representing a 14% increase compared to 2022. Upcoming services from United Airlines and American Airlines, commencing in 2024, are anticipated to further enhance seat availability and traveler convenience by adding 137,268 new seats.

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Complementing these developments, Guyana is also making strides in hospitality infrastructure. The government’s efforts in attracting private investment will result in the addition of over 1,000 international standard hotel rooms by the end of 2024. Notable among these are properties from globally recognized chains like Aiden Best Western, Marriott Courtyard, Four Points Sheraton, AC Marriott, and Hyatt Place, all set to open in various locations across the country.

Guyana’s international standing has been bolstered by the progressive strengthening of its passport, evidenced by its ranking on the Henley & Partners Passport Index. The Guyanese passport is 59th in global rankings, indicative of the country’s expanding diplomatic relationships and its citizens’ increasing freedom to travel. 

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The enhanced status of the Guyanese passport is now reflected in its ability to access 91 destinations worldwide without a visa. This visa-free access primarily includes countries across Southern Africa, Latin America, Central America, the Caribbean, and East Asia. Guyanese can also travel to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Russia without visas. The increasing strength and recognition of the Guyanese passport are parallel to the nation’s growth, having seen 33% economic expansion in 2023. 

Visitors to the South American country have been increasing exponentially since oil was discovered, and production got underway in 2019. Massive deposits exceeding 11 billion barrels of oil equivalent have been found by U.S. multinational corporation ExxonMobil.

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