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DominicaJuly 7, 2008 By: Joe Pike Travel Agent
Latest News and Notes From Caribbean’s Eco-Gem
The Indian River in Dominica
This past November, Travel Agent first told you about Dominica’s new push to separate
itself from the rest of the beach destinations in the Caribbean by focusing instead on the destination’s landscape and eco-appeal.
Since our sit-down with Steve Bornn, who just took over as CEO and director of tourism of the Discover Dominica authority at the time of the interview, we figured we’d bring you some updated news and notes on this Caribbean destination and the green benefits of the region.
Dominica Denounces Overturn of Whaling Ban
Perhaps the biggest Dominica news to come out in the past few months has been the destination’s statements denouncing the overturn of the worldwide commercial whaling ban.
The topic had been slated for discussion last month at an International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting in Santiago, Chile.
Prior to that meeting, Dominica publicly stated its nonsupport.
“In common with most of our Caribbean neighbors, Dominica remains strongly in favor of the sustainable use of marine resources,” said Roosevelt Skerrit, prime minister of Dominica, in a written release. “Our stringent environmental practices and philosophies have earned us the label ‘The Nature Island’ and, upon careful review and deliberation of the issue, it has been determined that voting for an overturn of the existing worldwide ban on commercial whaling would be inconsistent with the standards and principles of sustainability that we so fervently advocate.”
Dominica itself is not a whaling nation, nor is whaling permitted in its territorial waters. The island’s tourism industry is nature-based and relies heavily on niche market tourists who seek out environmentally friendly leisure travel destinations.
Dominica prides itself on being an eco-friendly destination (hikers shown at Middleham Falls)
Sea Turtle Conservation
To further plead its case as one of the region’s most eco-friendly destinations, an island-wide Sea Turtle Conservation program is being launched in various communities of the North and Southeast of Dominica for the 2009 turtle-watching season. More than 40 people completed an in-depth training program, including Sea Turtle Biology and Tour Guiding techniques, in an effort to create a comprehensive community-based ecotourism and management program, which will include guided tours to watch the hatchlings make their way to the water, beach patrols and scientific data collection.
Beach patrollers have already been conducting turtle tagging, taking measurements and, where necessary, relocating nests and eggs. Three species of internationally endangered marine turtles the program has begun monitoring are the leatherback, hawksbill and green turtles. The tours are $10 per person in season, which is from now through October. Local snacks and drinks such as roast breadfruit, codfish and coffee will be sold, as well as souvenirs and T-shirts available at select beaches.
“We’ve seen renewed excitement for the ‘The Nature Island’ brand positioning with our refreshed graphic, reinforcing the traction that [Dominica] has in the marketplace,” Bornn told Travel Agent. “In addition, we’ve been making excellent progress in an important element of the marketing plan—getting the local citizens involved in our tourism programs, as evidenced by the encouraging level of participation in our new Sea Turtle protection initiative.”
For more information, visit www.discoverdominica.com.
Dominica’s Dive Fest Celebrates 15-Year Anniversary
This month, Dominica will celebrate its 15th Dive Festival from July 11-20. Divers and snorkelers as young as eight years old can participate in pool- or ocean-based introductory sessions to teach them the basics, with some trial sessions even offered for free.
To mark the anniversary, many local dive centers are offering group travel packages whereby one diver goes free with every seven they book. Visit www.dominicawatersports.com for more information.