The recently installed Board of Directors of the Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association (DHTA) have decided on a number of new Strategic Priorities to guide engagement and advocacy for their membership in the tourism sector.
The DHTA has, since its 51st Annual General Meeting in July, focused on COVID-19 certification for member accommodations and the dissemination of timely and relevant information to assist properties with their reopening and receiving of guests.
The Association has played a lead advocacy role in the safe relaunch of tourism and collaborated with the Ministry of Tourism to develop and launch the ‘Safe in Nature’ concept. A DHTA Booking Line has also been created to steer visitors to certified accommodations and help in the promotion of the ‘Safe in Nature Tourism Managed Experience.’
Other strategic priority areas include the launch of a digital platform, envisioned as a tool to attract more, sustainable business opportunities for DHTA membership and to provide a more efficient and effective set of tools to increase productivity. The digital platform supports the DHTA’s innovation agenda to help propel its membership into greater use of technology for business growth.
The Association’s signature publication, ‘Experience Dominica’ is now available online as a more easily accessible, trusted portal for destination information, activities, products and services.
A Business Exchange Platform, a closed network for members, is also on the cards to enable members and suppliers to offer special discounts, book services and purchase products.
Executive Vice President of the DHTA Kevin Francis says “We are excited about this year. Of course, the pandemic has drastically affected our membership and travel is slowly picking up in Dominica. While all this is true, we are using this time to deal with priority border issues and prepare the membership for a new normal that will undoubtedly be technology / innovation centered”.
Another staple of the DHTA calendar “ACTalks” will also get a lift in 2020-2021. The DHTA is developing a series of ACTalks (Action through Collaboration in Tourism) to engage the membership in online and in person workshop sessions focused on business continuity, loan coaching and financial management training. The ACTalks are aimed at increasing member capacity to better respond to shocks to the industry like those following the impact of Hurricane Maria and the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial Management Training will train members in bookkeeping, online bookkeeping tools, innovation in cash flow projection and accounting principles in the tourism context.
The DHTA is also reimagining the popular Hike Fest for relaunch early next year.
With an impressive innovation agenda, the association intends on partnering with several public and private sector stakeholders locally, regionally and internationally. “It is important for our partners to buy into this paradigm shift and we are confident that this is the direction of world however, Dominica is slower to adopt these innovative solutions. We see this as an opportunity to bring members and stakeholders up to date and promote more sustainable business practices through the use of technological and procedural innovations.” Says Kevin A. Francis, Executive Vice president.
President of the Association, Hans Schilders, describes the Strategic Priority projects as “the private sector entrepreneurial approach to business in a rapidly changing world. For all tourism companies and self-employed tourism service providers 2021 will be the year of “If it to be, it is up to me”. After COVID, tourism will not be the same as it was. We will need to be agile in our tourism offerings, present ourselves as accessible and digital, and offer complete vacations in close cooperation with all tourism service providers. An interesting challenge awaits us.”