Travel Daily catches up with Colin Piper, CEO of Discover Dominica Authority to hear about the island post-Hurricane Maria.
Following Hurricane Maria, what is the current status of the island?
Dominica remains hopeful, while there is still a lot of work to be done, most would tell you: they’re open for business and if they’re not quite yet, they plan to be soon.
Regional Airlines (LIAT, Seaborne, Winair) provide daily connections to Dominica from regional hubs: (Antigua, Barbados, San Juan, St Maarten and Guadeloupe). Flight connectivity will be greatly improved when our international airport Douglas-Charles Airport resumes its night landing operations.
Most of the major tourism sites and attractions are partially opened or completion works are near finish as from this month the destination is welcoming back cruise visitors and overnight visitors.
Accommodation on the island continues to be a challenge as many of our hotels did take a hard hit, the critical fact as to how soon they reopen remains access to funding. However, we have received good news that Fort Young Hotel in our capital Roseau has officially opened this month and Secret Bay has announced their intention to open in November 2018
On utilities, approximately 80% of the population now have pipe borne-water, while extensive repairs on water network continues. The electricity company continues to work towards providing access to power up the entire country by April 2018, with additional assistance from other Caribbean Islands.
From a destination marketing stand point, some plans have been put on hold, however, we have pulled up our sleeves and have launched the first phase of a global campaign as we want to keep building momentum.
What are your relief, recovery and rebuilding projects going forward?
In an effort to rebuild stronger and better, the government has been advocating that the population adopts a climate change resilience approach in their rebuilding and restoration works moving forward.
The need for international funding, professional technicians, structural engineers, heavy equipment operators will continue to be a major need during the recovery and rebuilding periods.
How long will it take to bounce back and are there plans to make it a more climate resilient island?
Yes indeed, the intention is to build back better and with Climate Change resilience at the core. The road ahead will be long, as to how long this is dependent on several factors and Government’s overall development plan. The Government in all of its post Maria communication seeks to focus on Dominica being a climate resilience island.
What are the primary tourism revenue streams at the moment?
The destination has already welcomed cruise visitors beginning January 2018. A voluntourism program is currently being promoted, providing options from various on island tour operators. Packages range from cleaning and clearing of the Waitukubuli National Trail, cleaning of the Indian River and cleaning of debris at dive sites. Further details can be sourced from www.dominicaupdate.com
Pre-hurricane, how was Dominica performing in terms of tourism figures?
Prior to Hurricane Maria, Dominica was on pace to have double digit growth in stay over visitor arrivals. This is extraordinary in light of the fact that we had set backs from Tropical Erika in August of 2015. It speaks to the resilience of the destination – its natural assets and people, as well as to the strategies implemented by the Authority to increase awareness and conversions to actual stayovers.