Sydney Allicock, 55, is from the North Rupununi, Region Nine, Guyana and is widely accepted as a pioneer of community-based tourism in Guyana. He led the Surama community in implementing a sustainable tourism project that has been copied by other Amerindian communities in Guyana and is considered a model for development of the country’s interior. Allicock serves as the Executive Director of Surama Eco-Tourism, an initiative which employs 70 members of the Surama community as hospitality staff, guides, cooks, artisans, and drivers, or indirectly as farmers, hunters, fishermen, tailors, and maintenance workers. Approximately 60 per cent of the community’s income is now generated through sustainable tourism-related activities, and 75 per cent of Surama’s households derive income from tourism.
Allicock has articulated and promoted a vision of indigenous rural community development based on communal effort, wise use of natural resources, traditional knowledge and social systems, and equitable partnership with outside agencies. He has been a key figure in the development over the past two decades of the village of Surama, the North Rupununi region more widely, and Guyana’s indigenous communities, which account for nearly a tenth of the country’s population.
More recently, Allicock has served as a member of the Multi-Stakeholder Committee of Guyana’s Low Carbon Development Strategy, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at saving Guyana’s standing forests while receiving international payments, generating income to develop the country and transform its village economies.
As Toshao of Annai, Allicock pioneered celebrations for Amerindian Heritage Day which were later adopted as a national event by the Guyana government. Now Amerindian Heritage Day is celebrated in a different village each year, bringing both investment and national attention to indigenous communities around Guyana.
Mr Allicock’s work has been recognised through awards, with notable recognition including: (i) The Guyana Medal of Service for work in community development in the North Rupununi in 1994; (ii) The ‘Tourism for Tomorrow’ Award from the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana in 1999; (iii) Awards from the Guyana Ministry of Amerindian Affairs for community development in 2003 and 2006; (iv) The Community Tourism Award from the Tourism and Hospitality Association of Guyana in 2006; (v) The Community Tourism Award from the Guyana Tourism Authority in 2008; and (vi) The Responsible Tourism Showcase Award from the US Educational Travel Conference (ETC), New Orleans, USA in 2009.
Mr Allicock’s contributions and achievements have been hailed by his colleagues. Among them is the Director of Resource Management and Training at Iwokrama, who says: “Sydney Allicock is clearly recognised as one of the most respected and dedicated leaders in Guyana and this is clearly seen in the vast number of meetings (nationally and internationally) that he is called on to represent the Indigenous point of view and also the application of the many many lessons he has been learning over the years in the North Rupununi. An outstanding attribute of Sydney is his absolute willingness to share his knowledge at all levels — always with great humility, and also his wonderful sense of humour which he is well known for.”
Allicock is one of the Iwokrama Centre’s key tutors for its Training Services Centre, where he has helped train hundreds of young Guyanese, mostly from indigenous communities, in leadership, survival skills, and eco-tourism development. His writing has been published in the distinguished literary journal Kyk-Over-Al and he has performed his poems at Guyana’s National Cultural Centre.
Mr Sydey Allicock is our Public & Civic Contributions 2010 Laureate.