DOMINICA TACKLES ‘ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM’
Saddled with a name that is often mistaken for its larger, more prominent Caribbean neighbour, the Dominican Republic, tiny Dominica (dom-in-eek-a) has its work cut out for it when it comes to brand awareness and marketing, admit island tourism officials.
The island introduced a new brand and logo earlier this year, with the Caribbean’s “Nature Island” focusing marketing efforts on promoting five pillars –Adventure, Agrotourism/Cuisine, Health and Wellness, Aqua/Water Adventure, and Events and Entertainment – designed to establish a bolder identity for the island, minimize confusion in the marketplace between the two destinations, and illustrate the island’s rich attributes.
However, “The elephant in the room is the Dominican Republic – the same name with much more resources to spend,” concedes Discover Dominica Authority CEO Colin Piper. “Every time Dominica goes out to advertise, people think it’s the republic, so we have to be novel, we have to be creative in the way that we go out and market and make sure we tell a story that resonates with people.”
A key destination initiative is the signing of an agreement for the construction of a new international airport with an anticipated completion date in 2025. The facility will be built on 165 hectares of land near the existing Douglas-Charles airport.
Property updates for the island include the soft opening of Coulibri Ridge Eco-Resort in December 2021; Fort Young Hotel & Dive Center’s plan to grow from 41 rooms to 101 by mid-2023; and Secret Bay’s plans to expand from 12 villas to 42 by 2025. In 2023-24, anticipated new properties coming online will be Anichi Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection, and Tranquility Beach Resort, Curio Collection by Hilton.
Describing a visit to Dominica as akin to visiting an “outdoor gym and spa,” Piper also touts the importance of culture in Dominica, which is celebrated in many ways, including Carnival (February), Jazz ‘n Creole (April), and the upcoming World Creole Music Festival, taking place Oct. 28-30.
Piper reports that the eastern Caribbean island has largely recovered from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and stayover visitor arrivals to the island are on track with projections for 2022.
In addition, nearly 150,000 cruise passengers arrived via 206 cruise calls, and the 2022-23 forecast calls for just over 200 port calls bringing 280,000 passengers.
Tourism authority marketing manager Kimberly King told Travel Industry Today at the recent Caribbean Travel Marketplace conference in Puerto Rico that the destination hopes to have direct Canadian flights when its new larger airport opens in 2025 and notes that beyond US gateways, including direct American Airlines flights from Miami, there are other Caribbean hubs like St. Lucia, Barbados and Trinidad, and ferries from Guadeloupe and Martinique.
But whichever way one gets there, King says Dominica provides visitors with “a balance between luxury and nature, and well-rounded cultural experiences.”
Foremost to consider, she says, is that the island boasts 375 rivers and is two-thirds of it is covered by tropical rainforest, which is home to 177 bird species, and more than 1,200 types of plants – all accessible to visitors via more than 500 km of hiking trails, including the longest on the island, the Waitukubuli Nature Trail.
And a new option for visitors is the Waitukubuli Sea Trail – the only permanent sea kayaking trail in the Caribbean – mirroring its land-based namesake, and on which kayakers can expect to observe various marine life such as turtles, dolphins, schools of colourful fish or perhaps gliding shark’s fin. Additionally, the trail provides the opportunity to explore hidden beaches, rock outcroppings, inlets, and the cliffsides.
She also cites an authentic creole culture, which manifests itself through the islands many festivals.
The tourist authority exec also notes that Dominica has a Canadian representative based in Toronto (LMA Communications) to help serve what she says is a “very important” market for the island.
First published at Travel Industry Today