Guyana is one of the most-undiscovered destinations in South America and, indeed, in the world. It is a country characterised by its bounty of nature, wildlife and birdlife, and its eclectic mix of cultures.
The leaps made in sustainable tourism in recent years have propelled Guyana onto the international tourism stage and have opened up small, indigenous communities to tourism, allowing travellers to get a meaningful and off-the-beaten-track experience.
Guyana is ideal for those looking for an authentic nature or culture experience and something a little bit different.
Can British travellers visit Guyana?
Guyana is currently closed to British visitors. Since January 15, the UK government has also prohibited all arrivals from Guyana, following the outbreak of a new variant of coronavirus in Brazil. The country is on the UK’s ‘red list’, meaning any returning British or Irish nationals must remain in a government-approved quarantine hotel for 10 days.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government of Guyana cancelled all international passenger flights in March 2020, but the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has since announced a phased reopening approach to the airports.
This began with some repatriation charter flights to bring locals home, followed by the return of some commercial flights for Guyanese citizens, international workers and diplomats.
The next phase, which started in January 2021, incorporates the expansion of incoming commercial flights that allow foreign nationals and international travellers to enter Guyana.
The next phase will expand inbound and outbound flights to provide more service for inbound and outbound tourists.
What needs to happen for Guyana to reopen to international tourism?
The opening of the border to international air travellers will follow the same phased approach. The Guyana Tourism Authority has created a GTA Hygiene & Sanitation Protocol that has been shared with all registered tourism businesses (operators, hotels, lodges etc) to help create and inform their own policies.
The GTA has placed a heavy emphasis on having this policy, and tourism businesses regulated by the authority will be subject to a health and sanitation assessment before they can be deemed safe for reopening to become a licensed tourism business in Guyana. Travellers are also encouraged to ensure they have health insurance prior to travel.
When someone travels to Guyana, they will be asked to follow the below protocol:
- Take a PCR test seven days before travel and submit a negative result to the airline to be able to fly.
- Wear a face mask while in the airport (as per their policy) and during the flight.
- On arrival into Guyana, visitors will be sprayed with a light mist for decontamination (70% alcohol substance).
- Complete and submit health information form and negative test result to the authorities, and take a temperature test.
- Observe social distancing protocols.
- If found to be positive with symptoms of Covid-19, the passenger may be put into isolation or quarantine.
- Baggage and cargo will be decontaminated prior to leaving the premises.
How can British visitors travel to Guyana?
There are no direct routes into Guyana from the UK, so travel to Guyana depends on the restrictions put in place by other nations.
Eastern Airlines, American Airlines and Caribbean Airlines operate occasional charter flights between Guyana and the US, but at present passengers are not able to transit in the US if they have been to the UK, European Union, Schengen Area or the Republic of Ireland in the last 14 days, and they would also require an ESTA to travel.
How else can you reach Guyana?
Guyana is connected to Suriname through a ferry service and Brazil through land entry by road. Due to the growing number of cases in neighbouring countries, there is no information at this time about when those borders will reopen. This will be approached with caution to ensure the health and wellbeing of locals, communities and travellers.
What safety measures can visitors expect in Guyana?
The Guyana Tourism Authority has launched its ‘Safe for Travel’ approval stamp for tourism businesses, which has so far been granted to 11 ecolodges and four tour operators.
Once a tourism business has been assessed and deemed to be Covid-19 compliant by the Guyana Tourism Authority and National Covid-19 Task Force, approval is granted for the business to begin operating once again.
The chief medical officer from the Guyana Ministry of Health has urged people to exercise social distancing and carry out measures to reduce the spread of the virus. The government has introduced Covid-19 emergency measures, which include:
- A curfew between 6pm and 6am.
- Essential businesses (supermarkets, markets, banks etc) are allowed to be open from 6am-5pm.
- Hotels and lodges are allowed to be open for 24 hours.
- Social distancing and wearing of face masks must be observed at all times.
- Face masks are required to be worn in public spaces.
- Everyone should remain in the confines of their own home with the exception of 90 minutes of exercise in open public spaces (social distancing to be observed).
- There are restrictions on all social activities, including planned activities along the sea wall (with the exception of exercise), attending bars and gymnasiums.
- Restaurants are allowed to be open from 6am-5pm for take-out, drive-through, delivery or outdoor dining, ensuring that all tables are six feet apart from one another and no more than four people at a table.
- Public transport is allowed to operate at 75% capacity with social distancing protocols in place.
Travellers are also encouraged to ensure that they have health insurance prior to travel, be truthful about personal health information, be informed about the individual policy of their local tour operator, hotel or lodge, and observe social distancing protocols.
PICTURES: Jamie Lafferty; DreanA – Fotolia
Last updated February 19, 2021
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