Minister for Tourism Ian Douglas has said that there is ongoing dialogue “with a number of stakeholders” to address the vexing issue of vagrancy in Roseau.
“Vagrancy is something that affects the visitor experience … guests must feel comfortable in the destination,” Douglas said at a press conference on Thursday which was attended by a delegation from the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).
The delegation, which consists of cruise executives of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Princess Cruise and Disney Cruise Lines, will assess Dominica’s cruise tourism product and visit several of the island’s tourism sites.
According to Douglas, vagrancy is something that cannot be tolerated in Dominica. “We don’t want those guys coming on to the Bay Front and touching the guests and harassing the guests…” he said.
He said several meetings have been held to discuss the matter. “We’ve had meetings with a number of stakeholders particularly the Ministry of Health to see how we can deal with those vagrants in the city,” he stated.
He noted that among one of the areas explored was getting the vagrants away from the Bay Front or the entire city, “put them in a place where we can treat them humanely with a warm bath and a meal and stuff and get them away from the general area while the guests and the ship are in port.”
Vagrancy in Roseau has been a matter of great discussion recently. At the recent Tourism Awards Ceremony, Douglas lamented that it has severely affected Dominica’s rating among tourism destinations in the Caribbean.
The minister said he hopes that by the beginning of the next tourism season, a solution will be found and he called on all institutions on the island, even those the outside tourism industry, to assist.
Earlier this year Chief Environmental Officer, Anthony Scotland, said although the matter is not easy to deal with, it must be addressed as a matter of urgency. “Some people might be talking that they have their human rights and all sort of things but you cannot afford to have a town of loose vagrants going up and down, creating problems for you and the environment,” he remarked. “It is a problem we must address in Dominica quickly.”