Dominica is hoping tourism numbers next year will equal its visitor arrivals of 2017, which were set to be a record high on the Caribbean island before it was decimated by Hurricane Maria.
The country has been gradually recovering since Maria, with several new hotels launched this year including the 14-suite Jungle Bay Eco Villas in June and the 151-room Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski this October, while February 2020 will welcome the reopening of the 28-room Rosalie Bay eco-resort.
Visitor numbers have also been on the increase, with stayover arrivals to the eastern Caribbean island totalling 43,774 for the first half of 2019 – a 66.7% increase over the period in 2018 (26,265). Meanwhile, cruise visitors increased 760% (155,232) on the same six months of last year (15,508).
The UK market, which represents 7% of all arrivals to Dominica, reached 2,605 between January and June – a year-on-year increase of 59%.
Speaking to TTG at WTM Colin Piper, director of tourism, Discover Dominica Authority, said: “For 2020 we want to reach pre-Maria numbers, which was more than 72,000 arrivals in 2017. As for the UK, we want to increase the market share to 12%.”
Visitor figures have been boosted partly by increased airlift, which includes a new daily Seaborne Airlines service from San Juan, Puerto Rico, a four times weekly Liat flight from Barbados and a four times weekly Corsair service from Guadeloupe.
Meanwhile Piper said the new hotel openings reflected Dominica’s need to fill the gap of luxury properties.
“We want to complement, not cannibalise Dominica’s position as the ‘Nature Island of the Caribbean’. If you look at most of the luxury openings, they are pushing an eco-friendly offering too, which falls in line with the identity of Dominica. We are now in the position of being able to offer Dominica to a myriad of people.”
To encourage visitors to hike Dominica’s various trails and experience its wildlife offering, the Discover Dominica Authority has developed the Trail Hiker’s Logbook and Passport, a document for visitors to record and be rewarded for the number of routes tackled.
“This logbook was created to solidify our position as the hiking capital of the Caribbean,” said Piper. “Not only do we want to entice visitors, but also our locals that haven’t returned to sites since Maria for fear they weren’t the same as before.”