DHTA responds to government’s decision to reevaluate Safe in Nature programme

The Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) expresses concern over a recent decision to reevaluate the Safe in Nature Programme (SiN).

Since its launch in August 2020, the SiN progamme has provided a safe avenue for the relaunching of tourism in Dominica during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tourism Service Providers (TSPs) implemented a number of stringent protocols and were able to host hundreds of guests.  Currently, there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Dominica, a sure indication that the Safe in Nature programme has been highly successful.

To participate in the programme, properties incurred tremendous expense and stress to implement safety and hygiene protocols, train and monitor staff and adapt to frequently changing rules in order to keep their businesses viable during the pandemic. Properties were able to remain open, employ limited staff, and offer Safe in Nature guests a Nature Island experience.

Throughout the period, the DHTA ensured that all properties received support to operate in the current environment and comply with health safety protocols. The DHTA is confident, therefore, that, all efforts were made to keep the island safe. The DHTA agrees that any breach must and should be dealt with appropriately by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Tourism. However, the closure of a vast majority of SiN properties without consultation is unacceptable.

The DHTA is well aware of the rapid spread of new highly contagious variants. These new variants, which have caused a rise in cases across the globe, are managed by masks, proper hand hygiene, and social distancing; practices that Dominica has embraced with much success. The DHTA is further heartened by the fact that vaccination of citizens is ongoing which positions Dominica to receive more visitors in a safe environment soon.

The closure of properties will have dire consequences for accommodations including:

  • Increase in unemployment in the tourism sector; increase in poverty and burden on government
  • Closure of properties leading to increased delinquency at banks
  • The inability of the sector to recover after COVID
  • Reduction in GDP, VAT, other taxes, and foreign exchange earnings for years to come

The DHTA proposes a meeting with the relevant groups to address the potentially devastating impact of the closure of the SiN program on the industry and on the already fragile economy. The meeting has as its objectives to:

  1. ensure that the Tourism Sector is represented – and considered – in the discussions when Health decisions directly affect the private sector.
  2. obtain a clear definition of the problems being experienced by the MOH, MOT, and the Tourism Service Providers with regards to protocols, monitoring, PCR testing, and communication or dissemination of information.
  3. determine how the MOT and DHTA can assist in the process of monitoring and logistics for PCR testing.
  4. review the recommendations made by the Monitoring and Border Committees and the recommendations that will be jointly submitted by DHTA members.
  5. focus only on recommendations directly related to COVID or to national health safety.
  6. develop and communicate procedures addressing how breaches are to be handled.
  7. jointly create SMART, enforceable recommendations and actions that will meet the objectives of national COVID safety, hold stakeholders accountable and safely relaunch tourism.

The DHTA remains committed to a successful partnership with the Ministries of Health and Tourism to constantly improve the already successful SIN program.

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  1. Venez
    March 8, 2021

    The closure of a vast majority of SiN properties without consultation by the Ministry has got very little if anything to do with the spread of the virus but it has everything to do with politics. If I’m wrong with my statement, I would like people to come forward and point out any properties that were closed and were owned by Skerrit supporters.

  2. Laid off
    March 6, 2021

    The control of Covid 19 in Dominica is not because of the brilliance of health officials or of any protocols but as a result of a poor and underperforming economy and small population. Because of no economic activity people are volunteeringly self quarantine and social distancing. The majority of traveller that come to Dominica are the diaspora who come for funerals or to see family members besides that nothing is happening in Dominica so all this lock downs nonsense and police chasing citizens from the beach and rivers was just madness.

  3. Mike
    March 6, 2021

    What you have in Dominica is health officials who are government workers with no understanding on how an economy works and no empathy for the private sector nor the small guest houses who depends on that revenue to stay open. One just have to look at the level of cruelty that goes on at the Port of Portsmouth against vessel owners and their crew and it is mind boggling, all Dominican Agricultural produce and manufactured goods are transported weekly by these boat owners to the tune of 6 million dollars per month that is probably the only productive sector of the economy yet these seafarers are locked up on their vessels and are sometimes denied access to food and water by over zealous security guards. So DHTA good luck in getting health officials with no basic understanding of commerce who have been given unchecked and unlimited powers over a passive population.

  4. Roger Burnett
    March 6, 2021

    Let’s hope that there is no community spread of COVID-19 in Dominica. But what are we currently doing in the way of community testing to confirm this assumption?

  5. Not a Doctor
    March 5, 2021

    More talk… Parlay Parlay Parlay.

    while I support efforts to protect locals and visitors from Covid 19 to many tourists, presumably arriving by yachts are seen walking around the town of Portsmouth, often times in groups without any face masks and not practicing social distancing.

    I want to know if the wearing of face masks mandated by the government is for locals only and not for visitors? It only takes one sick person, local or visitor, to trigger the spread of the Covid 19 virus

  6. Nudibranch
    March 5, 2021

    if a hotel can’t contain its quarantine guests, penalize that hotel and or remove covid compliance, then broadcast it on media platforms, stating why.. Send the offending parties to government quarantine too.
    There is absolutely zero need for already struggling businesses to be told to take on security to enforce quarantine.
    Similarly, if a hotel is pleading ignorance and allowing traveling yachtspersons ashore, arrest the owner. “I didn’t know”, is not an answer.

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