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Postby duay7t15f » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:16 am

By Jarryl BryanGuyana’s tourist industry had an early trailblazer in the person of Richard Ousman, who defied allRichard Ousmanodds to form his own company, Wonderland Tours, 25 years ago. His views on the industry live on in the form of his daughter Aliecia Figueira, who has since taken over the family business and recently re-opened the popular establishment.WHO WAS RICHARD OUSMAN?So who was this Richard Ousman who inspired so many? It is said that to understand where one is going; one must look at where they have come from.The youngest of seven siblings, Ousman was born on April 18,Wholesale Jerseys USA, 1960. His father was a businessman, and Richard was indoctrinated with the desire to follow in his father’s footsteps. At first he started out in the music industry, as his father, popularly referred to as “Doc”, owned Doc’s Record Bar.In the mid 1970s, Ousman took over the family business and in time local talent was drawn to the bar like ants to a honey pot. He met Sammy Baksh at the record bar and a friendship sprung up. When he was just 16 he produced Baksh’s first hit single, ‘To be lonely’. He would go on to produce the album “Classical moods.”Ousman’s next music venture was with Eze Rockcliffe & the Yoruba Singers. In 1981 he produced the album “Fighting For Survival” with the Yoruba Singers. He went on to produce with other Guyanese singers, such as Pamela Maynard’s album “Lost, Lonely and Helpless.” In addition, he produced Sach Persaud, Bonny Alves and Czerina Ali.Ousman’s love affair with the tourism industry started after a visit to Santa Mission. He had travelled extensively throughout the United States of America and the Caribbean, and in the process had made quite a few friends.In 1989, Ousman held a family huddle with his wife and his two children, Syed and Aliecia. As he endeavoured to live his life by family values, he was not about to exclude his family from any business decision that wouldAliecia and Mario Figueiraimpact their lives.As a result, Wonderland Tours was born, and the friends he had made on his extensive travels would become his clients.Operating in tandem, the couple’s first move was to establish a tourist desk at the Hotel Tower. While his wife would be the secretary, he would be the tour guide. The business would become successful and Ousman realized he had found a niche.Told that there was no future in tourism in Guyana, Ousman thought differently and was determined to prove everyone wrong. Told to give up, he instead invested in wooden speed boats and engines, life jackets, coolers and the basic outdoor gears.He started with the Santa Mission tour, and then developed the Essequibo river tour. He started taking people to Kaieteur Falls and Orinduik Falls. He developed a Georgetown City tour and as the business grew so did his tours.Ousman also established the Harpy Eagle Jungle Lodge in the Mazaruni River, a forerunner to such lodges. He was also a founding member of the Tourism Association of Guyana (TAG).Wonderland Tours would become his life and he devoted much to the business.CARRYING ON THE TRADITIONToday his daughter, Aliecia and her husband, Mario Figueira, have carried on the tradition of husband and wife partnerships driving the business.Ousman (at right) in the early days on one of his popular tours.Recalling her father’s achievements and modus operandi, Aliecia was plain in noting that her father was not the easiest person to work for and he often demanded too much of his employees.  She noted that he changed many workers but the really good ones stayed and never left.“I remember them as I was growing up and they would all say that (he) was a good man, a perfectionist, a man ahead of his time,” She said. In time, however, Figueira’s health would decline. According to his daughter, he discovered he was diabetic at the age of 32,Wholesale NFL China Jerseys, but never understood how serious the disease was until it was too late.“The last four years of his life my father had lost his eyesight and this was devastating for him and the people that loved him,” she related. “He managed to conquer his blindness and he baffled many people. Today people still say there were moments when they weren’t sure if he was blind or not.”“His love for the arts led him to his final adventure; one I know was very close to his heart,” she continued. “This was the ‘Stress relief’ comedy show that starred Lyndon ‘Jumbie” Jones, Henry Rodney, Habeeb Khan, Sonia Yarde and others. This would bring much joy to my father’s life; he enjoyed being a part of the laughter and friendship that the actors brought to his life.”Ousman died in 2007, at the age of 47.His daughter then took over Wonderland Tours. She describes her foray into the family business as a journey.“It’s (been eight) years now and I have since gotten married and have been travelling and marketing Guyana. I now see why my father loved Guyana and was a true Guyanese in all aspects.”She noted that, alongside her husband Mario, innumerable time and effort has been invested in the business. In addition, she observed that her mother also provides advice.“My father paved the way for tourism in Guyana,” she said. “He always told me that he can’t live anywhere else but Guyana, and now I find myself saying the same thing. My husband Mario and I (will) invest all of our time and effort into the business to make it the best that it could be.”CREEPING CHANGESObserving what is occurring on the tourism landscape of Guyana, Figueira is of the view that a combination of lack of infrastructure, international airlines and poor marketing strategies had led to a decline in the industry, but things have changed.“We have a renewed sense of confidence in tourism in Guyana,China Jerseys,” she said. “We were always very vocal on how we felt about the previous government, they did not pay any attention to tourism (and there was) almost (the) feeling that they didn’t want persons to come here to see the truth of Guyana.”“So we decided to re-launch Wonderland Tours, taking a different approach, knowing that this new government is on our page.”The businesswoman applauded the cleaning up of the city,NFL Jerseys Outlet, noting that it had been a major impediment to business. She emphasised that the sector needed all the help and support it could get from the Government of the day.She observed that tourism has not been wholly static over the years. As time has advanced, so have infrastructure and marketing platforms.She also spoke of the creeping changes in the tourism industry over the last two decades. Figueira pointed to the investments in building hotels and resorts, and in transportation.“Tourism has seen a major transformation in the last eight years. We have seen businessmen diversifying and investing in tourism, we have seen tourists from countries that never visited Guyana. We have (also) started using technology and social media to market our product.”“Tourism in Guyana has been given a boost by the local businessman and now it’s time for a boost from the new government.”PROACTIVE MEASURESShe reflected that one area the Government had been wasting money and time in pursuit of was trade shows. She called for more proactive measures, such as arranging for billboards in public places of countries with potential tourists. In addition, another aggressive marketing step she flagged was advertising Guyana’s product on buses and public transportation in these foreign lands.“They should open information offices in New York, London, China, India and all of the other major cities in the world,” she said. “Guyana’s name should be out there, yes,NFL Jerseys From China, we are a country, yes we speak English, yes we are a part of the Caribbean and South America, yes we have untouched rainforest.”Advocating for measures to ease up on visa restrictions,Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping, she also noted that emphasis should be placed on developing specialty tourism and building on the strengths that are already evident.“Guyana is known now for a great night life, people know they can come here and enjoy themselves without any hassle,” she said. “Where tourists can come and be free. Take away this 2 a.m. curfew, it’s bad for tourism and business. Promote entertainment tourism and build on a reputation that we already have.”
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