Carla James becomes first ever indigenous woman to be appointed as Guyana’s director of tourism

Carla James becomes first ever indigenous woman to be appointed as Guyana’s director of tourism

(PRESS RELEASE) – The Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) is pleased to announce the appointment of Deputy Director, Carla James, as director of the tourism body beginning May 1, 2020. Ms. James will succeed the current director, Brian T. Mullis, following the conclusion of his two-year contract on April 30, 2020 and becomes the first ever indigenous woman to assume the position.

Ms. James, a proud Akawaio and native of Kamarang Village in the Upper Mazaruni Region (Region 7), was unanimously identified as the superior and most suitable candidate at the end of a rigorous four-stage selection process conducted by the agency’s board of directors. Her appointment also marks a pivotal moment in the GTA’s 18-year history as she becomes the first indigenous woman to assume the role – a fact to be noted by social historians and celebrated by indigenous peoples and women of all ethnicities throughout Guyana.

“Ms. James is uniquely qualified to lead Destination Guyana as our new director of tourism,” said Donald Sinclair, the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Tourism Authority. “In her we have found a leader who is not only professionally well-versed in our destination and industry sector, but someone with tremendous national pride and heritage, both of which are essential components for strengthening our tourism strategy going forward. Her ascension to the role of director will also be a tremendous source of inspiration to many young women who now have proof that women of all ethnicities can shatter glass ceilings and go where previously they feared to tread”

In her capacity as director, Ms. James will lend a breadth of managerial and industry experience, with a proven track record for institutional strengthening, financial management, and destination planning, marketing and management, spanning 19 years in her professional career. As graduate of President’s College, Ms. James began her career in 2001 as a research assistant at what was then the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce. In 2003, she made the move to the Guyana Tourism Authority and joined the team as a statistics and research officer. In the following years, she has held the positions of Senior Statistics and Research Officer, Marketing Manager, Logistics Manager and Personal Assistant to the Director of the Authority, and most recently, the Deputy Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority.

“I am filled with a great sense of pride and accomplishment. It has been an amazing journey of learning, apprenticeship, training and experiences; and I am extremely honoured to take on the role of the Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority and serve the place I am so proud to call home,” added Ms. James, current Deputy Director for the Guyana Tourism Authority. “Our work plays a significant role in helping to protect our precious natural landscapes and wildlife and it is a responsibility I do not take lightly. During a time when community is needed most, I look forward to supporting my own by continuing to push Destination Guyana forward alongside our valued industry partners.”

The new director will assume leadership during what is easily the most severe and dynamic time for the global tourism industry – COVID-19 crisis. Her task will be to lead her team through the implementation of an industry recovery strategy, building on what has been established over the last years and pivoting based on the travel industry’s new normal. The Board of the Guyana Tourism Authority, entire GTA body and outgoing Director, Brian T. Mullis, remain confident that Ms. James’ leadership capabilities and strong support will allow the GTA and Guyana tourism sector to overcome the current challenges and build upon the tremendous successes achieved during the past two years.

Those successes include multiple awards and designations that have helped propel Guyana to great heights in the tourism industry and in the sustainability sector specifically. In 2019 alone, Guyana was named the World’s #1 ‘Best of Ecotourism’ at ITB Berlin, #1 ‘Best in Sustainable Tourism’ at the LATA Achievement Awards, #1 ‘Best in Destination Stewardship’ at the CTO’s Sustainable Tourism Awards Programme, and the ‘Leading Sustainable Adventure Destination’ at World Travel Market. These designations spurred interest in the small South American nation like never before and resulted in multiple features in annual travel lists and other high-profile media coverage positioning Guyana as a top destination to visit in 2020. The destination has also secured its first award for 2020, being named the 2nd place winner of the ‘Best of Americas’ category by the Green Destinations Foundation.

Despite the challenges ahead to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, the Guyana Tourism Authority remains optimistic that this foundation of interest in Guyana will prevail as travellers seek out more sustainable and enriching ways to explore the world later into 2020 and well beyond.


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