INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY: CELEBRATING, CARLA JAMES, THE FIRST INDIGENOUS WOMAN TO BECOME DIRECTOR OF THE GUYANA TOURISM AUTHORITY
International Women’s Day is a day to reflect on progress made, call for change and celebrate acts of empowerment, courage and determination. For 2021, the theme of International Woman’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge and nowhere is this theme more prevalent than in the achievements of Carla James who in 2020 became the first indigenous women to assume the role of Director of the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA).
Ms. James, who is 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 following a rigorous selection process. The director’s appointment marks a pivotal moment in the near 20-year history of the Guyana Tourism Authority and has been celebrated by indigenous peoples and women of all ethnicities throughout Guyana.
Speaking at her appointment, Donald Sinclair, the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Guyana Tourism Authority, stated: “Ms James is uniquely qualified to lead Destination Guyana as our new director of tourism. 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.”
It should also be noted that Ms. James assumed leadership during what is easily the most severe and dynamic time for the global tourism industry – COVID-19 crisis. Thus far, she has led her team through the implementation of an industry recovery strategy and pivoting actions based on the constantly evolving travel climate. This has seen the implementation of the GTA’s ‘Safe for Travel’ scheme which has been designed to allow Guyana to reopen to international tourism while keeping the safety of both the traveller and indigenous communities front of mind. Earlier in the pandemic, the director spearheaded a project that supplied COVID-19 Support Packages that included Ecolab cleaning and sanitation products, infrared thermometers, PPE equipment and more, to indigenous communities.
“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 seek to continue to support my own by continuing to push Destination Guyana forward alongside our valued industry partners,” said James.