Dominica: Strong 4th quarter performance signals tourism recovery

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The months of October to December 2018 produced arrivals of 22,178 from all source markets to Dominica, representing 35.3 % of total stay-over arrivals for the year which stood at 62, 828. This is an increase of 95% over the same period in 2017. Increases were registered at 91%, 113% and 78% respectively during the last three months of the year compared to 2017.

The quarter also represents a marginal increase of 0.9% over the same period in 2016. November 2018 was the first month to show an increase over the same month in 2016, with an increase of 15.6 % over November 2016. Arrivals amounted to 5,271 which is the highest arrivals for that month over the past 12 years of reported data, representing a record for the destination in that regard. December figures showed that the upswing continued, registering a 6.7 % increase over December 2016 arrivals.

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The year-end figure of 62, 828 visitor arrivals, represents a 13% decline over 2017 figures of 72, 228. This performance surpassed the projections given for countries which had suffered a natural disaster of the magnitude of Hurricane Maria during the previous year, as expected declines are normally in the vicinity of 30%. In addition, the 2018 numbers represent only a 20% decline over 2016 arrivals which is also of significance.

The focus of DDA’s marketing and product development efforts for the past year was to provide current information on available product and communicate pertinent updates to all relevant publics.

Timely updates on the destination’s positive recovery efforts and stories of optimism were communicated to all relevant publics, internal and external to Dominica. Vicky Chandler, DDA’s Destination Marketing Manager indicates “We embarked on an aggressive communications strategy which saw the development of a separate website specific to destination updates; awareness and discount campaigns and a concerted effort in our Press outreach globally, hosting media from all of our main source markets and communicating outward via social, digital and print media to potential consumers as well as to our travel trade network.”

The cruise season was modified as a result of the passage of Hurricane Maria resulting in an 88% decline in arrivals in the first 6 months of 2018 vs same period in 2017. However, there was a major improvement in cruise arrivals during the last two (2) months of the year. The destination also recorded Cruise visitor arrivals in July, August, & September for the first time in 5 years which contributed to a total of 134,469 arrivals in 2018, a 14.4% decline over 2017 (154,040).”

Minister for Tourism and Culture, Hon. Robert Tonge opines, “These figures are the direct result of the cumulative efforts of Team Dominica in many different aspects of the destination’s recovery. The government’s investment in site rehabilitation and enhancements along with the celebratory season which started with the exciting WCMF in October, through to Reunion and the 40th Anniversary of Independence in November were key drivers of interest among our loyal Diaspora market and friends of Dominica. The recorded figures augur well for the future of the industry and the people of Dominica on the whole.”