Dominica has been hard hit by the loss of Ross University and Portsmouth stands to bear the brunt of this economic casualty but the town’s mayor, Titus Francis, is confident that his community and the country, will rebound from the economic blow dealt by Ross’s departure.
“I am very confident. I am very positive that we will bounce back out of that unfortunate situation…” Francis, told Dominica News Online (DNO). “Dominicans are a resilient people.”
He explained that the launch of the Val Ferry in Portsmouth, last week, is timely and will provide economic opportunities for villagers who may be negatively impacted by Ross’ withdrawal.
“The landlords who stand to lose, the local businesses entities who will now feel a little bite from the removal of Ross, now have an opportunity to come together as a town, as a unit, and create the enabling environment with Val Ferry coming into Portsmouth, to begin to look at alternative areas of economic activity to Portsmouth,” Francis elaborated. “I’m sure in the months and years ahead, Portsmouth will bounce back and continue to present itself as the hub of economic alternatives for the country.”
Francis’s optimism is shared by Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, who, in an interview with DNO at the Val Ferry launch , acknowledged that the university’s departure will negatively affect the entire country, but remained convinced that the best course is to remain positive.
He assured that the Ministry will meet with stakeholders and work “three times as hard” to chart the best way forward.
“The important thing is to be optimistic. They say when one door closes, another one will open, but it all depends on how quickly we can come together as a people, and plan a way out so that many other doors can open as quickly as possible.” Tonge said. “…We need to sit down together as a group of people—the stakeholders, the people of Dominica—and chart the best way forward for our country.”
The Minister also revealed that persons in the area will be trained in hospitality to cater to tourists who will visit due to operations of the Val Ferry.
“Training is going to be a key factor, because most of the persons who provided accommodations here did not really interact with the guests on a regular basis…” Tonge explained. “Training has to be improved. We have to get proper systems to be able to attract people.”
Economic activity generated by the Ross University School of Medicine’s made a contribution of 30% to Dominica’s Gross Domestic product (GDP).