Hotelier Sam Raphael bemoans accessibility issues with tourism here

Sam Raphael

One major hotelier in Dominica says the absence of an international airport has greatly affected the country’s tourism sector.

Local hotelier Sam Raphael says while Dominica’s tourism thrust deserves a thumbs up, the issue of air travel continues to impede the vital sector.

“To market an island to people and then when they try to get to the island they can’t get connecting flights is an issue. That’s the problem that we are having because our marketing is high but the connecting flights to get people here the same day is a problem,” he said.

Raphael is anticipating an increase in visitor arrivals to the country when night landing is introduced.

“I understand that we will be able to handle night fights in the short term and hopefully we will be able to attract the night flights”.

He said with the advent of the technical completion of night landing “this should make a difference.”

Raphael said he is hoping that government could negotiate with various airlines in that regard.

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19 Comments

  1. March 12, 2013

    is that jungle bay is the best hotel in da :) :-D

  2. leolav
    July 6, 2010

    So sad, y’know, because everyone here seems to echo the same sentiments re airport, infrastructure, and most of all customer service. When we first went to the Bahamas, my hubby was stunned when some unknown fella greeted him loudly from across the street, as he waved energetically. I asked hubby if he knew the guy. He said he did not, and was perplexed at the man’s enthusiasm The mystery unraveled when we settled on the island for what became a 5-year residence. We understood that the islanders were overly friendly or at least pretending to be, to ensure that visitors returned–and they did. When tourism is your bread and butter, hospitality becomes your main utensil. Maybe we do not want to develop tourism–hey, folks are still scared about influx of visitors–so then we shouldn’t worry about the status quo. Courtesy is not costly. Why can’t we show more of it. A smile? That’s free. If we can’t get hold of the free items, why pursue the costly ones like an airport? I’m just saying.

  3. seahorse
    July 6, 2010

    Yes we may need an International airport but where are we going to put the ‘rush’ of tourists who will visit. The problem is investment, the government cannot aford to build the airport so who is going to invest, who is going to take such a major risk and put their money on the line. We need decent roads, decent hotels, decent accommodation, decent restaurants, decent entertainment and top of the list, a total mindset overhaul of Dominican customer service – that alone will take a couple of centuries. So who is going to risk their money in investing where it is blatantly obvious (the first business establishment you enter will tell you that!) the people who can change this mindset are really not interested regardless of how much training is offered. So what about the return on their investment, this will be achieved soooo long term their great grandchildren will probably be the only ones to benefit – if at all. That’s the bottom line in business, profit – if investors cannot see a profitable bottom line they wont risk their money. Which is of course why investors are not falling over themselves to get to DA.

    I agree with Roxy Poxy, I think because of the down turn in the world economy, tourists are going on cruise ships and ‘doing’ the Caribbean in a week. The ones who decide to come to DA often stay for 2 days here, three days there up and down the island so hotels and guest houses must find it difficult to make decent profits. As a result of being a 24/7 industry tourism is labor intensive needing staff and amenities to cover shifts 24/7, guests need to be made secure and this needs people including security staff, costly utilities (dont even get me started on that!) top quality food etc, etc. What is the answer, I dont think its all about an international airport. If I arrive to my destination after a long flight and I am tired and hungry and my lugguage has not arrived with me, a great welcoming smile a reassuring and professional manner and a great welcoming smile is truly priceless.

  4. only
    July 5, 2010

    Worrying about advertising DA? Try getting Domlec and DWASCO in line. Tourists don’t like not having water and electricity at a whim. Neither do the residents here. And there is really no reason for it.
    How do you think ta good impression is set with tourists when they go into a restauant and they tell them that they can’t serve them because they don’t have water and they can’t use the restroom because the toilet doesn’t flush?
    A lot of tourists don’t go on vacation to be inconvenienced. They go on vacation to be catered to.
    The tourism industry here really needs to re-evaluate what it takes to attract tourists. The ones that come to camp are a different category.
    Excellent service equals good transporation, good clean food, uninterruped water, sewage, garbage disposal, and electricity services.

    If you have that, tourists will come regardless of the airlines.
    Ferries are the most reasonable answer. Direct transportation from the airports in places such as St. Lucia and other islands with ferry service directly to DA.

  5. Wesley Girl
    July 5, 2010

    I can agree that an International Airport is needed in Dominica, however I must say that before that is done, Dominica needs to get out there. We need to let tourist know what it is all about. I was very disturbing two years ago when I attended the CTO fair in New York and Dominica was not even represented. If it is not in our budget to let people know about us, then what is the sense of an international airport.

  6. @International Airport:

    ” By this I mean, before airport is finished, we must ensure that we have sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate the anticipated increased tourist arrivals. We must ensure that we have proper roads to and from the”(……..)

    Here we go again; as accurate as the quoted comments above may seem, it seems we have forgotten something.

    The fact is we cannot place the cart in front of the hours, the carriage cannot pull the horses.

    Dominica has nothing to pull investors into the country!

    In anthropology there are two important therms used among others, they are ” the push, and the pull.”

    Let us use America, Canada, and Britain as an example of the ” pull.”

    These country’s are very good example of the pull, in that people from all underdeveloped nations, flocked to theses country’s in order to experience a better life, by working, and earning money that they could not earn in their place of their birth.

    Dominica, and some of the islands in the Caribbean are very good examples of the ” push ” because we have very little that encourages our people to remain at home, and so we run to places such as Antigua with the hope of finding work there; ( a small pull).

    The harsh conditions in our country serves as the push!

    Whereas one argues that we need more Hotel space to accommodate a large number of visitors anticipated, and therefore the Hotels must be in place prior to the International Airport, is not all that correct.

    First of all, what we have in Dominica, and consider them to be Hotels, to me they are actually Guess Houses, you see, even Fort Young, is third class to the Hotels I have in mind. And in order for us to attract investors to the country, to invest money in anything significant; and if we are talking a fully developed tourrist resort, which can employ hundreds of people, there must be an international airport in operation on the island that will attract (pull) some large Hotel chain operators to our island.

    The pull is none existence in Dominica, so which foreign company is going to rush into Dominica, without seeing signs of development, and empty their wallet in anticipation, of something that may never appear, based on the history of our country.

    We are always going to do something, which never materializes anyway!

    I guaranty the day ground is broken on an International Airport in the country, there are people ( companies) which will take notice, the attraction would have arrived.

    ” Build it and they will come” is no longer a hypothesis, that has long become a theory.

    Las Vegas Nevada confirms that theory!

    When we build an International Airport in our country that will be the day we truly begin to see some significant financial changes within our economy.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  7. Ny Bulldog
    July 5, 2010

    Customer service in da is a joke………….u don’t need an international airport………you need training on how to deal with the public.

  8. leolav
    July 5, 2010

    Well I’ve stopped paying attention to the argument on international airport. That’s not going to happen. I am not landing at night in DA, and pretty sure American Eagle isn’t going to do that any time soon. They don’t even want to land in day time if they see 2 clouds in the sky. But since I love coming home, I am relying on ferry service from St. Lucia or the French islands. I say DA should invest in that business. Get our own ferries. Run them a few times per day and even night, and we can come home any time. Strike a deal with the major airlines that fly to St. Lucia, Martinique, Guadeloupe, so that the ferry and airline work in tandem to get travelers to DA timely. Last time I took the ferry it necessitated overnightng in St. Lucia. I love St. Lucia, but would rather get to DA same day, so if I can get into STL let’s say by 11 a.m., then I should be able to make a connection to ferry by 1 pm. The transfer should be handled by the airline and included in that cost. You know, in the 80s there were junket flights from Miami to Freeport Bahamas, where taxis were waiting to transport passengers directly to the casinos and the reverse would occur by evening or next morning, but all arranged on one fare, airline and taxi combo. We could do that with airline/ferry. I, for one, already know it’s the only way I’m traveling to DA.

  9. only
    July 5, 2010

    Yes, DA is not easy to access, nor are there inexpensive flights to it. It is off the beaten path and is a nature island, not a beach island per se.
    But on top of that, there is a real lack of customer service orientation. And until that is remedied, even if you have decent air service, you will not be able to build and keep a tsubstantial ourist base. It starts with the service in most of the business’ as well as the govt. offices. It is lacking. Instead of excuses, try real service for a change. Train the employees to be service oriented.

    DA has potential, however, that potential is frittered away because it is SO hard to get anything done here. Combined with the road blocks of govt. and lack of motivation by a lot of people who think that they should get paid but not have to work very hard for the money, progress is VERY slow.
    So then you see the motivated people, like the Chinese come in and do the projects and get them done. Not because there aren’t people here that could do the work, but because deals are made and the dependability factor of the local comes into question.
    Wake up people, there is no such thing as a third world country. It is a state of mind which says gimme, gimme, gimme because I can’t do for myself, which is a lie for the most part.
    So start doing instead of just sitting there divided.
    Community effort along with a govt. that chooses to assist the people is a winning ticket.

  10. Leroy Registe
    July 5, 2010

    Is Dominica ready for an International Airport? “YES”

    How long will Dominican rise to the future of an opportunity to moved from low-minded thinking people to a people of a positive cognitive thinking such as wealth, growth, jobs, success, freedom to live and travel to a more comfortable life. on the average of time Dominica should have been the first Caribbean Country with an Intrnational Airport. However, because of the negative attituted that so many Dominican’s express clearly indicate that most of them have no intention of moving the country forward. This is another opportunity that comes to Dominica again to get an Internation Airport, and the Government must stop play politics, and forget the low thinking unlearned, low minded Dominican who have been in darkness from the day they were born untill this day without knowing what is good and what is not good. When we look at the trend of this world people all the world are looking for a safe environment where they can live a free and comfortable life with know fear. If we can build roads an international airport make more land availabe for business stop the crimes in Dominica, then we will be the safest country in the Caribbean. and this Government fails to adhere to the opportunities of development and help from other countries. When I became the next Priminister in Dominica I will get Dominica an International Airport, so that Dominican will be able to egress and ingress to their destination.

  11. possie
    July 5, 2010

    it wld be good to have one but its still ok for now , st thomas has one well kinda
    half off it is closed service is wats important lets go slow plz .

  12. International Airport
    July 5, 2010

    While one can argue convincingly that an International Airport is something the country and gov’t must seriously consider, one must note that the Airport cannot come alone. By this I mean, before airport is finished, we must ensure that we have sufficient hotel rooms to accommodate the anticipated increased tourist arrivals. We must ensure that we have proper roads to and from the airport and major tourist sites (basically an entire road upgrade-which I know is slowly happening now). We must ensure that we have the capacity at the Hospital to accommodate, God forbid, any major disaster that might happen. We must ensure that we have sufficient social activities, other than the natural sites we offer (many of which would be closed at nights). Further, we must ensure that we attract the international carriers to our shores. We cant have an International Airport for LIAT and WINAIR and the like to frequent. We must strike up deals with American Carriers like AA, Continental. Jet Blue and European Carriers like Virgin and British Airways and of course of regional carriers like Caribbean Airlines.

    So its not just securing funding for the airport alone but all the additional upgrades and contracts that must be signed.

    As for travelling from one point to another, I have visited countries before where we have to drive hours from the airport to the hotel/apartment etc, and this is done at night. Once we have the proper roads to facilitate this as explained earlier then the journey would not be the issue. U will find that people “in their right mind” would indeed travel from the airport to Delices and further. It is so much better to accept than having to overnight in some other country because you cant get a connecting flight.

    Further, tourist do travel visit small islands as Mr. Telemaque said, this is the thrust of many a Caribbean Nation’s economy. Cruise ship travel is ever becoming more popular but air travel is still popular.

  13. @Roxy Poxy

    Sam do not be discouraged, some people are incorrigible, and they can never see past the glass, plate or cup, is half empty.

    Whereas some of us view the glass as have full, the incorrigibles view it as almost empty. People do travel, and they travel to the small islands of the Caribbean okay!

    If the Hoteliers in the region who advertised on Jeopardy, The Price Is Right, and Wheal Of Fortune were not profiting from their advertisement, they would not continue to do it for as many years as they have done.

    Sometime ago, I was cooling out at Mandelay Bay in Las Vegas, decided to take a ride on a tram to go to another place and Gamble, I was in a loud conversation with a woman, a guy turn to me and ask, ” are you from the West Indies?

    Well, you know how I quick to say I am from Dominica, when I was through talking about Dominica, and Wesley, the guy calmly said to me, ” last month, I visited Dominica, and that’s the island I favored the most on my cruse.”

    He told me loved Dominica so much, he wonted to stay a few days, on the Island, and then fly somewhere, and hook back up with the Ship and return to the U.S., nevertheless, when he went to see if he could get a flight to meet the ship wherever that was, there were no such flights available.

    You see, whereas we concentrate on our Port-of-call, to accommodate the ships, we refuse to recognize the need for the International Airport, and the economic potentials which comes along with it.

    When a tourrist ship come to port, it stays for maybe, eight or nine hours, the passengers come ashore, buys, very little, because the same souvenirs they can buy from the local huckster , they can purchase them on the ship for less.

    However, someone flying in on a vacation, it would be expected that person would spend a minimum five days on the island, normally the duration of a working class person is ten days, a retired person may want to remain for a month, or longer.

    Think about the amount of money that people arriving by air would have spent on the island whiles within ten days.

    If people were not traveling to the Caribbean by air to vacation in the Caribbean, then all the Hotels operating in the region would be out of business by now.

    So, to the incorrigible genus, I might just invite that person to research what is happening on the Islands, of St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts, Tortolla, Anguilla, Nevis, not mentioning St. Marten and the Dutch Antilles.

    Tourism is what keeps the Islands I talk about economy alive, and the only island in the midst with any agricultural plantation on it is St. Lucia.

    And all of those islands are more develop than Dominica!

    So, when you find people talking crap, pay them no mind, what does driving to Delices at night have to do with an International Airport?

    If the question is darkness, hell, I drive across the United States, and Canada, sometimes I am driving on I-40, interstate 10, and I-69 which link into the QE highway in Canada, fore all like ten hours at night without seining a single light, not even from an oncoming car, not one approaching from behind.

    So, what’s the persons point?

  14. July 4, 2010

    Mr. Telemaque, I support some of the points you made about Dominica is not that marketed,
    such as a Tourist Destination. Not on Television commercial, News papers, Flight magazines,
    brochures. All other islands can be seen, but D/CA no KAYRAY!

    No wonder the rest of the world thinks we Dominicans are from the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC!

    And even though we have an Internal Airport, The Marketing is still a problem.
    The Hoteliers must come together and do something about that marketing.

  15. NATURE BOY
    July 4, 2010

    @Roxy Poxy: 0 This is so true. You hit the nail on the head.

  16. Sunray
    July 4, 2010

    While they’re waiting on the night flights to bring in the tourists, it would be good if many of the business owners in Roseau especially would do something about the appalling customer service in their establishments.
    Whether you’re living in Dominica or you’re a tourist people deserve far better customer service than is currently on offer and business owners need to spend some money training themselves and their staff.
    I visited two photography shops in Roseau to have my picture taken and the assistants could barely summon up the energy or interest to attend to me, and I was there to spend money!

    Some of the restaurants have such sour faced people serving, it’s extremely offputting and makes you wonder what the food will be like.
    Businesses also need to do something about the filthy toilet facilities in these restaurants.

    Customers have been too accepting for far too long of the shoddy customer service and the bad attitude of some shop assistants who act as if you’ve walked in to cause them some great inconvenience.

    All the wonderful marketing will go down the drain when many more tourists arrive and start travelIing around the island then return home to post their horror stories and negative comments on various travel websites on the internet.

  17. Roxy Poxy
    July 4, 2010

    To Sam Raphael:
    Even if we have night landing who in their right mind will drive from Melville Hall to Delices at night?
    Please ask yourself . You are intelligent enough to know that the whole Caribbean infact all over the world is suffering from the depression.Tourists do not visit small Islands anymore, they take cruises that take them to a different Island every day, and it is much cheaper. Imagine seeing the caribbean in one week, then the following year they choose another destination and it goes on and on.Please do not blame anything on the Airport.

  18. I discovered the missing words after I submitted my comments.

    But, I is one who doh can write eh, so doh slaughter I.

  19. Sam, so often, we here that Dominica is been marketed as a tourist destination, nonetheless, I personally have yet to see a single commercial on Television, or read anything about Dominica in some National Newspaper of any country!

    Certainly, when I travel; occasionally I’ll see some native Dominica born displaying a small Dominica flag in their car, my registration plates on every car I own are personalized, thus my name “Telemaque” spelt in different ways are permanently displayed, with the words ” Commonwealth of Dominica West Indies,” surrounding my name.

    However, I do not know if such advertisement from me and other patriarchs help at all.

    So, where are we; and on what planet are we selling Dominica?

    If you and others operating Hotels on the island would like to help yourselves, and benefit more from the industry, perhaps it would be wise to combined your resources and buy some advertising space on the game show’s such as Jeopardy, and the Price Is Right, these are programs that are viewed internationally, and at prime-time.

    It might be good to do the same as the Hotel operators in the rest of the Caribbean has done.

    From Jamaica in the North, to Trinidad in the South, and between, those hoteliers advertise on the same two popular programs I mentioned. In addition, when one walks into any Travel Service Agency here in the United States, Canada, and Europe, it is common to find brochures with information about basically all the island of the Caribbean, except the Nature Island!

    And here is something anybody check out. The next time you are flying internationally, if you pick up any in flight information magazine, made available by the airline, brows the connecting flights, internationally, see if the name Dominica, or nature island is written on any page in one of those books.

    I will give a thousand dollars to anyone who could present me with a page of any of the magazines in question with the word ” Dominica” written on it, showing connecting flights to Dominica.

    Please don’t try to fool me with something reading ” Dominican Republic ” because I know the difference, and I know their are international connecting flights to that one and Haiti.

    Hahahahahahahahahahah!!

    Anyway, seriously, it is time that our nation concentrate on the construction of an International Airport. It is imperative, essential, and more than a mere necessity, and we all know it is long overdue.

    I know that there are people in the country who entertain the idea that we need it, however, we are too broke, our treasury cannot afford the cost, therefore some donna nation or godfather will give it to us on a silver platter for free.

    Well, miracles do happen, and I believe in miracles, however, I don’t see such a miracle happening in Dominica anytime soon.

    A relative of mine try to convince me that the Government of Dubai is on the brink of building one, and operate it for; I forget how many Hundreds years he told me, and he said after they get all the money they spent building it, they will wake up one day and say to the people and government of Dominica, here is your gift, we done, we gone.

    Bye!

    The only way we will get an International Airport in our country, we the people will have to find the money, either by borrowing, begging, or if all of the many hundreds of thousands of us in the diaspora decide to help by setting up an International Airport Fund, and make regular contributions to it, thus raising enough money to commenceand, and build the project ourselves.

    I am prepared to make my contribution to that.

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

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