Hon Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, says the regional tourism industry should see 4-5% growth this year from increased visitor arrival and spending which will be reflected in the local sector.
He was speaking at the 50th Anniversary Annual General Meeting of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Industry on Monday, September 9th when he said this year’s numbers should surpass those of 2016 and far more exceed those immediately following Dominica’s recent disasters.
Minister Tonge believes this regional and local growth will result from increased input from government.
He said, “The expected growth of the industry has been fuelled by increased awareness of the island and an increase in the level of investment in the sector. An increased awareness of the destination with the addition of several major high-end hotel projects and the expansion in ancillary services including the upgrade of many tourist sites and attractions are other factors.”
He added, “We expect to see an increase in both diversity and significant increase in rooms within the next 12-24 months with the completion of projects through the Citizenship by Investment Programme and other major funded projects.”
Minister Tonge, who described the tourism industry as one of the largest, most significant and fastest growing, says Government and his ministry have taken steps to better position the sector. Those steps include improvements to customer service delivery.
“The Government of Dominica has decided to commit to providing higher levels of investments to improve visitor facilities, destination marketing and very importantly, the improvement of the human capital,” he reported. ”In this regard, the Government of Dominica articulated its clear intention in the 2019/2020 National Budget to establish a Hospitality Institute. Government’s support for the institute is a manifestation of a clear decision to address a skill deficiency in the industry and build the human capital needed to improve service delivery.”
He referenced the elimination of tuition fees for students of the Dominica State College “so it provides access for individuals to get trained.”
The Hon Tourism Minister, the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association and stakeholders, all agree that the much-needed evolution of the tourism industry will take a concerted and collective effort.
Minister Tonge however went further to say that it will require a change of thinking.
It is imperative that transforming our industry today goes beyond building new properties to accommodate many visitors or building impressive sites and attractions.”
He challenged, “While these are important elements for building a world-class destination, we need to recognize that we need to develop a mindset for quality and consistent service excellence to go along with the construction of these new properties, better connectivity with major source markets, improved infrastructure and high quality attractions.”