Tourism Summit seeks to address issues within the sector

A three day summit was held at The Fort Young Hotel with the hopes of finding new ways of developing a marketable strategy and action plan for the Discover Dominica Authority (DDA).

Various stakeholder groups in the tourism industry, as well as experts from around the globe attended this summit.

At the summit, Tourism Director, Collin Piper said that strategy must complement Government’s Tourism Master Plan which in turn coordinates with The Tourism Policy and the Growth and Social Protection Strategy.

Dr. Phillip Heneghan, one of the experts in the tourism industry representing CHL Consulting, an organisation which specialises in international tourism delivered a presentation on corporate strategy. His presentation analysed the mission and vision statements of the Discover Dominica Authority and asserted that the establishment is capable of achieving its goals regardless of its primary challenge of inadequate funding.

Dr. Phillip Heneghan directed his attention to aspects of Dominica’s tourism industry which require attention including the availability of market-ready accommodation.

He explained that, “In order to maintain the viability of the industry, we really need to get a 50% room occupancy on average and that translates to an increase of 7% a year in room nights, in bed nights and in tourism numbers.”

He expressed how much of a challenge it will be to do so yet emphasized, that it is imperative.

He continued “If the industry is to survive and thrive you need a minimum of a close range of 7% a year and when that’s translated it comes down to 90,000 stay over visitors by 2015 compared to 75,000 right now and that is the challenge that is facing us, the challenge that is facing the DDA, and the challenge facing the market of representatives.”

Dr. Heneghan stated that in order for the DDA to achieve its goal more resources and emphasis should be placed on the departments of information technology and communication.

He further stated that, “According to the way things are currently progressing, E-Marketing, E-Distribution and E-Commerce are very important aspects of the industry.”

He felt that it was necessary for the head office to spend more money and more effort on these aspects. He went on to say that, “The more successful destinations spend between 20% and 30% of their marketing budget on E-Marketing.”

Dr. Phillip Heneghan made some recommendations on how the organization should be restructured again to fit in with what is practiced not just today and how to achieve the targets that are ahead in the next 3 to 10 years. He continued by speaking about product development. He said product development requires one to invest in their product.

“I think what we are talking about here in the DDA is more promotion. The bringing together of packages if you like of particular products such as hiking, diving, honeymoons and things like that”

Dr Heneghan was impressed by the abilities of the Discover Dominica staff and complimented the employees on their achievements. He said, “The DDA has got a highly skilled cadre of personnel. We looked at the skills that they have at the DDA and it’s about the best in the Caribbean frankly and secondly it has a hard working and dedicated staff. The fact that the various activities are carried out to the extent they are is due to their hard work and dedication as otherwise I don’t think it would operate at all.”