Guyana’s bird-watching tourism potential has been identified as a niche market since 2006. However, focus in the past was solely on the interior locations of Guyana. And in spite of Hope Beach on the East Coast of Demerara being identified years ago by the Ministry of Tourism as a prime location due to its easy accessibility from the capital Georgetown, and its vast population of migratory and other species of birds, it remained undeveloped to 2014.
As part of the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project’s alternative livelihood component, an award winning horse cart tour through the mangrove forests in Victoria was developed in 2012, which was immensely successful and was the recipient of national, regional and international environmental awards. In order to build on this success story, it was decided to utilise the successful model to replicate similar eco-tourism initiatives in other mangrove forested communities such as Unity Beach, which is located near the Mahaica Creek and which had all the necessary criteria such as a large swathe of intact mangrove forests rich in avifaunal biodiversity, which was perfect for developing a riverine birding tour, which would complement instead of compete with the horse cart tour.
Additionally, the site possessed additional complimentary attractions such as a combination of natural ecosystems, rich cultural heritage, vibrant artisanal fishing industry and man-made infrastructure such as centuries old sea wall and Dutch Kokers. Preliminary tour guiding and birding training were identified as capacity that needed to be developed and a concept note was submitted to the GIZ-implemented CATS (Caribbean Aqua-Terrestrial Solutions) program, which led to well-focussed initial support that was being provided over an intense period of two months in October and November 2014. 15 community members completed the course and received certificates.
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