By Land, Sea and Sky: Exploring Tourism in the Commonwealth of Dominica
It’s the most tourist-dependent region in the world and, with over 28 million people flocking to its islands last year alone, the Caribbean is also consistently the most popular destination with holidaymakers. Local economies are constantly looking for ways to enhance their tourism sectors, especially as oil and agricultural goods, which used to be the leading exports in this area, have seen a fall in price and demand.
In the Commonwealth of Dominica all eyes are on the country’s promising tourist industry. No longer able to rely on the banana trade that supported the island for centuries, tourism is receiving unprecedented investment and undergoing exciting developments.
The Nature Island
Dominica’s spectacular mountains, rainforests and beaches are recognised as some of the most beautiful and unspoilt locations in the region, earning Dominica the title of ‘the nature isle of the Caribbean’.
This idyllic environment has played a huge role in supporting the economy, beyond merely attracting visitors to the island. Dominica’s lush, untouched environments are also highly attractive to entrepreneurs, who see in the island an opportunity for their investments to grow.
One of the most enticing attractions for foreign investors is Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. The programme is decades old, reputable and an affordable citizenship option for single applicants and small families. Investments that flow into the country through this programme enable Dominica to further develop its tourism sector, or to otherwise invest in the future of its economy.
Over the next decade, Dominica will have to focus on creating successful tourism management plans and schemes. As it caters to such as varied audience, being next to the Americas but also receiving interest and investment from China, the way it markets itself towards contrasting cultures will prove to be particularly important.
Investment in yachting
Last year, the Ministry of Tourism announced plans to bring in more visitors to Dominica by investing the island’s yachting sector. Tapping into this ultra-luxurious industry would create a multitude of new jobs as well as encouraging investment and tourism from across the globe.
A thriving yachting scene would provide work for local people, directly and indirectly, across the island. Several construction projects, such as building mooring fields and jetties, are already underway, providing short-term local jobs and long term international attraction.
With just shy of 7,000 berths throughout the Caribbean, the area is already an established yachting hotspot; the US Virgin Islands, just 500 kilometres away from Dominica, is one of the most popular sailing locations in the world.
In order to get a slice of the economic action and a place on yacht enthusiastic maps, Dominica has begun promotion in earnest. For example, supported by the Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services, this year Dominica launched its first-ever ‘Yacht Appreciation Week’ – an event that successfully raised awareness of the nation’s expanding sub-sector.
While yacht owners in the Virgin Isles sail between beaches and bars before flying home again, Dominica hopes to offer visitors the opportunity to extend their trips and explore the island in full. In order to drive tourists beyond the island’s beaches, investment in security for moored boats (a concern for boat owners in this region) has been a priority.
Taking to the Skies
Bringing tourism in from all conceivable angles, aviation development is next to swoop and offer economic possibilities. This year could see the first ‘Caribbean Aviation Meetup’, hosted in Dominica over the course of 3 days.
The aim of this initiative is to create a new ‘air tourism’ sector, which would bring in a new wave of visitors who want to view, and experience the island from the skies. The initiative has already garnered the support of nearby Trinidad and Tobago as well as Canada and a number of European nations.
As well as propelling the economy forward and bringing attention to the isle, encouraging air transport also serves the practical purpose of delivering people over to the island. This year, following the reopening of the Douglas-Charles Airport on the northeast coast, aviation services across the world have added new travel options, focused on bringing travellers from nearby islands.
For the fifth year running, Dominica has been named one of the World’s Best Ethical Destinations. Not only was the island rewarded for its excellent healthcare and education systems, but also for its continual efforts to preserve its wildlife and natural environment – particularly marine life.
Every year, the island welcomes visitors who come to the island to experience the turtle-hatching season. Dominica’s efforts to protect sea turtles is an example of its excellent ecotourism initiatives. Visitors can buy holiday packages that enable them to participate in conservation activities across the island, allowing them to both help out the turtle population, and contribute to Dominica’s economy.
Ecotourism is hugely important to Dominica, as is likely to become even more significant as demand for nature-rich holidays continues to grow. Bedecked with volcanic mountains, boiling lakes, and waterfalls, Dominica has precious natural assets. Cognisant of their present – and future – value, Dominicans protect, preserve, and enhance these by establishing national parks and conservation areas.