In a refreshing switch from the norm,
Dominicas new minister of tourism, industry and private sector
relations does not come from the ranks of local politicians or
Yvor Nassief, who
took office this fall, worked in the private sector on Dominica for
nearly 20 years in executive level positions in the manufacturing,
hotel, financial services and real estate industries.
Appearing at his
first Caribbean Tourism Conference in St. Thomas in late October,
Nassief said that despite his reputation as a severe critic of the
government, the prime minister asked him to take on the ministerial
post the morning after the islands most recent
I accepted his
offer because I think a difference can be made, he said.
refused a salary for the position, described Dominica as an
untouched destination facing the challenge of encouraging more
travelers to visit but, at the same time, keeping our island in
this untouchable state.
be what its neighbors are -- and doesnt want to be, he
I want to remove
blockages so that we can have sustainable ecotourism in all aspects
of island life.
A number of
tourism initiatives cur- rently on the table may aid Nassief in
achieving his vision.
Air access, while
always a challenge, will get a boost when Caribbean Sun Airlines
introduces daily service Dec. 15 from San Juan to
The flight will
depart San Juan at 2:50 p.m., arrive in Dominica at 4:30 p.m. and
then continue on to Barbados. The return flight departs Dominica at
12:25 p.m. and arrives in San Juan at 2:05 p.m.
Another boost to
Dominicas airlift will occur when the island airports runway
extension and installation of landing lights are completed in early
[introduction] of night landings will help us with our visitors
coming from the [U.S.] Midwest, Nassief said. They will be able to
get to Dominica without having to overnight en route.
first country to receive benchmark designation from the Green Globe
21 ecotourism organization a year ago, is now on the road to
complete certification, according to Nassief.
In addition to
the national designation, five hotels on Dominica also achieved
successful benchmarking status from Green Globe 21. The designees
are the 3 Rivers Eco-Lodge, Tamarind Tree Hotel, Garraway Tree
Hotel, Fort Young Hotel and Hummingbird Inn.
underscores our commitment to sustainable tourism and further
positions Dominica as a world-class destination, Nassief
The benefits to
the island in terms of protecting its natural beauty and
environment, reducing costs and attracting more visitors are
more visitors is on the ministers priority list. Stayover arrivals
last year totalled 65,000 visitors, while cruise passengers
numbered close to 300,000.
The U.S. is
Dominicas fastest-growing market, especially in the dive
Our target in
five years is 100,000 stayover visitors per year, Nassief
occupancies now average about 50%, and we all would like to see
this rise. Dominica is still a long way from being
And there will be
plenty of reasons to visit Dominica over the next five
the opening of the Waitukubuli Trails system, a network of routes
and paths used by former slaves, and the introduction of a Carib
Indian model village where visitors can view the indigenous
islander way of life.
The setting will
be a Carib Indian village with a Carib council, Carib inhabitants
and Carib industry at work.
Bay Resort and Spa: This 50-cottage, 55-acre property
opened earlier this year as Dominicas first wellness and adventure
resort. It borders Morne Trois Pitons National Park, the only
Unesco World Heritage site in the eastern Caribbean.
More than half of
the resorts cottages, which are perched on wooden posts and
resemble birds nests in a forest canopy, were built by unemployed
farmers displaced by problems in the islands banana industry. The
farmers used wood and discarded stone from on old mining
developer Sam Raphael said Jungle Bay is an example of how we can
develop guest accommodations and not adversely impact the natural
environment. Rates start at $219 per night, double. For details,
Young Hotel: This hotel in Roseau renovated its 53 rooms
and suites, expanded its fitness center and added a pool. Visit www.fortyounghotel.com for winter rates.
Castaways Beach Hotel and Resort: The islands
first hotel, built in 1961 and still the only beachfront property,
is renovating, upgrading and converting some rooms into studio
apartments for long-stay guests. For information, visit www.castaways-dominica.com.
Habitation Chabert: Set in a 17th-century stone
mansion on the Pagua River, this inn opened a year ago boasting
Creole and French cuisine, a garden, a pool and Internet service.
Winter rates start at $200 per night, double. Visit www.habitationchabert.com.
Valley Hotel: Recent renovations to this 11-room property
include installation of wireless Internet service, new wood
flooring and colorful furnishings. The hotel is within hiking
distance of many scenic spots. For more information or to book,
Rive: The restaurant at this boutique hotel, on a hillside
240 feet above the Caribbean Sea, offers a variety of chocolate
desserts made from locally grown cocoa. Hotel facilities include a
rooftop terrace for dining, a pool, a library and private verandas
in each guest room. For winter rates, visit www.beaurive.com.
To do, to
Despite its small
size, Dominica does not skimp on visitor attractions.
" Last January,
the Wacky Rollers Adventure Park welcomed its first visitors and
now offers daily pickups from 10 hotels on the west coast. Wacky
Rollers, an ecotourism park, has river tubing, kayak excursions and
Jeep safaris. For more, visit www.wackyrollers.com.
" Last spring the
first phase of Gingerette Nature Sanctuary, a 35-acre ecological
preserve on the Layou River, opened. The preserve is intended to
serve as a model agro-tourism project showcasing native
It features a
waterfall, river swimming, bird watching, nature walks and guided
tours. An official Web site is under construction, but more
information is available at [email protected].
" Pirate lore is
the focus of Delphis, an online destination marketing company that
is tapping into the growing interest among visitors of Dominicas
pirate history. The firms Web site (www.piratesdominica.com) takes a close look at the
pirates who visited Dominica and explores the stories, true or not,
of buried treasure.
For more on
Dominica, visit www.dominica.dm or call (888) 645-5637.
reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].