Last updated: 09:31 PM ET, Mon August 31 2015

Dominica Seeks to Recover from Erika Devastation

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | August 31, 2015

Dominica Seeks to Recover from Erika Devastation

Photo courtesy of The Office of the Prime Minister of Dominica

The small Caribbean nation of Dominica has created a recovery and reconstruction fund to mitigate the “monumental” devastation of communities, buildings, roads and infrastructure following Tropical Storm Erika, which also killed 20 Dominica residents.

Swamped villages, washed-away bridges and shattered homes litter the island after more than a foot of rain fell in less than 12 hours as the storm hit Wednesday. Following his tour of the country Saturday, Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister said hundreds of people have been left homeless.

In response, Skerrit has appointed an international relief coordinator and ordered the evacuation of several Dominica villages. “There are still communities that cannot be reached three days after the passage of Erika,” he added in a statement on a government website.

In addition, Dominica’s Douglas-Charles International Airport has been severely damaged “posing further difficulty with access to and from the island” said officials in a statement. Although he couldn’t give a financial estimate on the cost of destruction, Skerrit said the damage “may have set our development process back by 20 years.”

Dominica’s visitor arrivals were slightly down in early 2015, with 33,332 overnight, land-based guests between January and May, a 1.3 percent decline compared with a year earlier.

However the country has experienced a successful run as a boutique Caribbean tourist destination in recent years, totaling 81,472 overnight tourist arrivals in 2014, a solid 4.1 percent increase over 2013 arrivals based on Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) statistics.

Dominica’s cruise tourism sector rebounded strongly in 2014, with 286,573 cruise passenger arrivals, a 24.3 percent increase compared with 2013 shipboard arrivals. The increase is largely due to the return of regular calls from Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Triumph. Carnival ships had called at Dominica since 1989, but halted operations in 2010.

Scattered areas remain without electricity or wireless and fixed-line Internet service, Skerrit said Sunday. It remains unclear how the damage will impact events scheduled to bring additional visitors to destination in 2015 and 2016. Dominica tourism authorities have coordinated a series of cultural celebrations and festivals for the remainder of 2015, including the World Creole Music Festival.  

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