[private] This Easter the tourists stayed away from Guanaja, or at least it can be said that there were a lot more visitors last year. Everybody is blaming it on the economic downturn worldwide, and without a doubt this had some effect. But I believe it is more so the failure of the Tourist Bureau on the island, as well as our poor facilities and the high cost of getting here.
The Tourist Bureau does not try to advertize or sell Guanaja as it should. Even with a representative of the Ministry of Tourism on the island, we get no tourists.
With our lack of infrastructure, we can only hope for visitors from the mainland or Bonaccans (Guanajans) who live abroad and return to visit family and friends. Most Honduran tourists cannot afford the passage to Guanaja; the minimum round-trip fare from La Ceiba is Lps. 2,500 per person. A family of four would have to spend Lps. 10,000 just to get here. For half that amount, those same four people could cover all their expenses to vacation on the beaches of the mainland.
For years people on Guanaja have been singing about how we must get into the tourism business. But most of them fail to realize that tourism is a business that has to be developed, and once you get it started it has to be nurtured to keep it alive.
Back in the ‘50s Guanaja was the first of the Bay Islands to offer flights from the mainland. Tourists came faithfully every year from places like El Salvador and Guatemala. As the numbers of visitors grew, we had trouble putting them up, but nobody did anything about it.
Today people are screaming for a cruise ship line to add Guanaja as a scheduled stop. But we don’t have the facilities to handle a thousand people at once, and except for some excellent diving, we have absolutely nothing that a thousand people would want to see or do on our island.
We must first build the infrastructure to support tourism before we can hope to get people to come and spend their money here.
We need to build botanical gardens and paths on both side of the cross-island canal. We also should find a way to construct safe forest canopy touring devices or someway to show off the beautiful tropical forest in the middle of the island.
Easter has come and gone, and the only thing that remains is the high cost for gasoline. At last check the price of regular gasoline on Guanaja was Lps. 120 a gallon. Most of the gasoline used on the island is for water transportation and must be mixed with oil, which adds another Lps. 10 to the price. Speed boats get about one mile per gallon. So you can figure what it costs to get up and down the island. The high fuel prices even kept some locals off the beaches this year – a sad affair, indeed. [/private]