TORONTO — Dominica, the Caribbean’s nature island, will be reopening to tourists on Aug. 7 but it doesn’t anticipate welcoming back cruise ships until the tail end of the year or early 2021.
During a North American online seminar on July 31, Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority and Director of Tourism for Dominica, said that cruising has been put “on the backburner for now,” but that he also anticipates discussions with cruise line to ramp up in the next month or two.
“A number of cruise lines have cancelled through December, but we anticipate that when the cruise industry has been given the all clear from the CDC in the U.S. that we will begin to have discussions to determine what protocols are needed on island to ensure a safe experience,” said Piper.
Noting how the island welcomes about 150-280 cruise calls each year from October through April, Piper said that Dominica (pronounced Dom-in-ee-ka) is a cruise ship destination “because we offer something different – sun, sand, sea and rainforest.”
About 66% of Dominica’s land is considered oceanic rainforest “so you can walk it, hike it, run it or get rained in it,” said Piper. Admittedly, Dominica suffers from somewhat of an identity crisis due to the fact that the similarly named Dominican Republic is situated just north of it. “But we are Dominica, the nature island, with a never-ending list of activities off the beaten path. We are certainly a paradise for travellers,” added Piper.
Dominica announced last month that it will welcome back international tourists starting Aug. 7. All visitors must submit a health questionnaire online at least 24 hours prior to arrival, and submit a negative PCR COVID-19 test within 24-72 hours before landing in Dominica.
Piper also confirmed during the seminar that in the short-term, visitors must serve a mandatory quarantine period “at your location, wherever you’re going, whether it’s to visit a friend or visit a hotel.” This quarantine period can last up to 14 days.
“This means that the clients that you would talk to about visiting Dominica right now are those who intend to visit for quite a while, who’ve decided to spend their summer abroad, who are going to pack up the kids and go some place for the next month or two or three and work from Dominica,” said Piper.
While in destination, visitors are required to adhere to all health and safety protocols, including wearing masks and practicing good hand sanitizing and respiratory etiquette. Safety measures have been put in place for ground transportation, sights, attractions, vendors, water sports and especially accommodations, all of which have gone through specified training with Dominica’s Environmental Health division. According to Piper, approximately 8 accommodations have already been certified.
“Dominica is extremely safe. Not only do we have a low population of just 70,000, we have been COVID-free for upwards of 100 days now,” said Piper.
To get to Dominica, Canadians must fly from Toronto or Montreal to an “island hub” that services the island. The main hubs are Antigua, Barbados, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten, where same-day connections to Dominica are available. To a lesser extent, the island hubs of St. Lucia, Guadeloupe and Martinique also offer ferry service to Dominica.
Agents can learn more about Dominica and win prizes by taking Dominica’s new online training course at dominicaexpertscanada.com.
For more information, the Discover Dominica Authority can be reached at (767) 448-2045 or see www.DiscoverDominica.com.