Paramaribo – The past season has not been good for the tourist industry, entrepreneurs claim. “Business has been bad these past few months,” says Access Tours’ Christine Dipoikromo, while freelance tour guide Errol Gezius says he has had fewer, shorter trips. Randy Ngaliman, who works at the tourism information center at Fort Zeelandia, says he has not had busy days.
Some months ago, airline company SLM announced a drop in the number of bookings. Erik Kuiper, marketing director of Mets Tours, estimates that compared to last year, his company got 10 to 15% fewer bookings. He believes the recession in Europe is to blame.”Due to this crisis, people choose last-minute offers.”
Due to lack of national management, Kuiper claims, Suriname’s tourist industry cannot benefit from this last-minute market. “You need to make arrangements with hotels and transportation companies to offer attractive prices.” The marketing specialist says Suriname lacks a tourism board, and individual companies cannot fully promote Suriname by themselves.
Kuiper believes that Suriname as a tourist destination should not be so susceptible to a recession, as it could be the ideal destination for European tourists aged over 50. “They can go to Suriname for eight days for 1,500 Euros or to Spain for 14 days for 700 Euros. In Spain, you keep bumping into other tourists eating fries, while in Suriname you can catch a fish and eat it under starry sky. You won’t find that anywhere else” Kuiper says.
Independent tourism adviser Martin Panday is less positive about the price-quality ratio of a vacation in Suriname, saying, “The tickets and products are very expensive. Accommodations are good, but not great. Suriname is attractive to adventurous tourists, but they have no ties to the country and might well go somewhere else.” He agrees with Kuiper that Suriname should be promoted among older tourists in particular, “but the product must be adjusted to them.”
Panday is concerned, but does not exclude the possibility that November and December might show an upturn. “That is actually the top season.” .-.
de Ware Tijd, 5 september 2012