IOM trains Dominica tourism stakeholders to improve disaster response plans
In 2017, Hurricane Maria directly affected 80% of the population of the small island of Dominica. Among them were residents at many hotels, resorts and guest houses, students at the offshore medical universities, migrant workers, and an entire cross section of migrants who were on the island. Therefore, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in partnership with the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA), conducted a two-day workshop in April 2021, on the topic “Protecting Visitors to Dominica in Times of Crisis”.
The workshop produced rich feedback from a broad range of stakeholders, based on local case studies shared during the programme, recounting experiences of service providers during Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria in Dominica. The case studies were used to highlight what worked well in providing protection to visitors who were on island at the time, and to draw lessons from the areas that needed improvement within the framework of IOM’s Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) guidelines.
“It is wise that we reflect on the recent experiences that impacted our visitors and reflect lessons that we learnt and build on them to become more resilient. As part of our overall disaster management plan, DDA is charged with preparing a disaster management plan for the sector based on different hazards which we may face”, remarked Colin Piper, CEO of the Discover Dominica Authority and Director of Tourism. “This plan must be sent to the National Emergency Planning Organization through the Office of Disaster Management, to be incorporated in the overall country disaster management plan. We are continuously looking to develop and improve on that document so that in the unfortunate event of having to use it we will be prepared.”
“Tourism is a vital component (of migration) and a key opportunity for Dominica and other countries in this region but does not come without its challenges. Countries and international partners need to be equipped for serving growing numbers of increasingly diverse visitors", noted Brendan Tarnay, Program Support Officer for the Western Hemisphere Program at IOM’s Caribbean Coordination Office. “We hope to see this replicated throughout the Caribbean – as engagement with this tourism sector is vital to strengthening protection of travelers, building confidence in the tourism industry, and building resilience of economies when facing crises”.
A broad range of public and private sector stakeholders participated in the workshop, including representatives from the Ministries of Tourism, National Security, Foreign Affairs and Environment, private sector representatives including the Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association (DHTA), the Dominica Taxi Association, Dominica Community Tourism Inc., Tour Guide Association, and the Portsmouth and Newtown yachting services groups (PAYS and NAYS). Representatives and/or liaisons of major source markets of visitors, including the French Consul, the Deputy British High Commissioner for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, U.S. citizen volunteer liaison to the United States Embassy in Barbados, and the German Person of Trust also participated actively in the exercise.
The workshop concluded on Thursday, 29 April 2021 with a drafting activity to propose elements to include in a more comprehensive disaster management plan for the sector. IOM provided technical support for the workshop under the Western Hemisphere Program, generously funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.