The Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) on Tuesday presented to tourism stakeholders, its strategic plan for the development of voluntourism (a form of tourism in which travellers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity).
The research findings and strategic plan were delivered by Lead Consultant of Acorn Tourism Consulting, Kevin Millington at a press conference held at the Prevo Cinemall.
Following the events of Hurricane Maria, it was necessary for (DDA) to review its strategy in tourism development and pursue new forms of tourism such as voluntourism.
Consequently, DDA has undertaken a few initiatives with the view of determining the viability and building capacity of relevant public and private sector persons and organizations involved in voluntourism.
While voluntourism has emerged in Dominica from the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, according to tourism officials, going forward it will be necessary to develop a sector that has little or no element of disaster relief. Consequently, in April 2019, DDA contracted UK-based firm, Acorn Tourism Consulting Limited, to undertake a three (3) month consultancy of the voluntourism niche market.
The objectives of the assignment were to investigate the potential for developing voluntourism in Dominica, develop a strategic plan for its development, develop program of activities in keeping with the voluntourism theme.
The consultancy was based on primary and secondary research, including a significant number of consultations both in Dominica and in key source markets.
“We saw the need Post-Hurricane Maria to look at some niches that could stand up to Mother Nature,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Director of Tourism, Collin Piper said while addressing a press conference.
Piper continued, “We looked at areas such as cultural and creative tourism, we also looked at the impact and effects that the diaspora travel, visiting friends would have on the tourism industry. And we also looked at the area of volunteerism.”
He said the DDA worked with a number of private sector personnel that answered the call relating to putting together some packages activities, “where as a destination we could go out and communicate to the wider world that although Dominica was down and out after Maria we in fact had a plan and we were in the process of rebuilding.”
He stated further that the DDA recognized the potential for the niche of volunteerism and so they try to approach it in a more structured way.
“We held trainings which was conducted by Caribbean Tourism Organization on looking at packaging for volunteerism activities,” Piper stated. “We did that Post-Maria and we also see it fit now to really do more of an in-depth consultation to look at how we need to structure the niche and what the areas of opportunity would be and give us a blueprint on how we can move forward with volunteerism as a growing niche.”
Piper believes that this can be an area of focus for quite a few stakeholders in terms of service providers, “where you are a property, a community, whether you are a service provider…”
DDA envisages that tourism service providers will learn about this potential growth sector and understand how they can get involved, since the future of voluntourism in Dominica will be dependent on active engagement by the service providers wishing to develop the sector.