Transport connections with Brazil hold potential
Suriname and Brazil are not linked by any major roads and are the only two countries in South America not directly connected by land. However, there is a plan to connect Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo, to Macapa in Brazil, via Pokigron in eastern Suriname and Brazil’s Tumucumaque Park through 500km of road and railway track. Once this route is completed, the potential for travel between the two countries will dramatically improve. In 2010, Suriname’s Minister of Public Works signed a Memorandum of Understanding for US$6 billion in investments from the Chinese companies Cheng Don International and China Harbor. This US$6 billion is expected to provide funding for a variety of projects in Suriname, one of which is the Suriname-Brazil road. As of May 2013, Suriname had yet to announce a start date for the project. Further opportunity exists in that Brazil will host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in the summer of 2016. Suriname could offer packages to attract tourists who want to take advantage of the trip to Brazil as an opportunity to see and enjoy other new places.
China increases its investment in Suriname
China has a considerable presence in Suriname, not only in population, but also in investments. The Chinese population in the country is an estimated 40,000 representing approximately 10% of the total population. Suriname also currently has multiple bilateral agreements with China, including three memoranda of understanding with two major Chinese firms: Cheng International and China Harbor. These agreements concern the financing and execution of projects that total approximately US$6 billion. China Harbor is the company that will connect Suriname and Brazil through the 500km of road and rail track, as well as a new harbour and a highway from Paramaribo to the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport. Financing from other Chinese sources is expected to build bridges that will span the Corentyne and the Marowijne rivers, which form the natural borders between Suriname and Guyana and French Guiana, respectively.
Heritage and culture provide another aspect to tourism
While Suriname is best known as a destination for ecotourism, the country has a rich heritage and unique culture that are also significant attractions. For example, the historic centre of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its colonial architecture. The city also features the Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral, the largest wooden structure in South America. Furthermore, the country holds the annual Suriname Heritage Festival, which began in 2010. Not only is the festival a celebration of the country’s unique heritage and diaspora, but it also aims to support local businesses and help create opportunities through culture and heritage. The 2012 festival included boat and bicycle heritage and nature tours and children’s events, as well as dance, language and cooking workshops.
Airport improvements on the horizon
In 2012, the Suriname government announced its intentions to invest US$70 million on the expansion and modernisation of the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport. Before the announcement, US$28.5 million had already been invested in the airport. The improvements included a resurfacing of the runway, renovations of the aircraft platforms and the replacement and backup of arrival runway lights. The new US$70 million investment will be used to construct a second runway that will be in line with international safety regulations. The departure and arrival lounges, which are currently separate, will be connected by air bridges, to avoid passengers having to walk outside. The Government hopes that these improvements, which are to be completed by 2015, will not only help make Suriname the transportation hub of the region, but also boost tourism arrivals.
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