As more Canadians seek unique vacation experiences with immersive cultural experiences and outdoor adventure, the Caribbean region is often overlooked. However, Dominica is increasing its efforts in the marketplace to share its story as “the nature island” – a destination that offers equal parts adventure and relaxation.
Often confused with the island of the Dominican Republic, make no mistake – these two islands share little in common. “We offer a completely different type of tourism experience,” says Lise Cuffy, marketing executive with the Discover Dominica Authority, noting first that it’s pronounced ‘Do-min-eek-a,’ not ‘Do-min-ika.’
“Dominica is immersed in nature and connected with a community that lives simply, focuses on the health and wealth of the land, and ensures the sea life is always cared; this is what draws interest, versus a more ‘sanitized’ approach to vacationing. “Getting back to rugged roots and being unplugged is something that more and more people want to experience,” she adds. Aware that there’s a lot for Canadian travel agents to learn about Dominica, Cuffy spoke with CT Magazine about the island and its offerings:
WHAT SETS DOMINICA APART FROM OTHER CARIBBEAN DESTINATIONS?
Dominica offers lush, breathtaking natural beauty that is unspoiled and uncrowded. The island is a haven for adventure travellers seeking a unique vacation consisting of hiking and adventure, cultural events/festivals, diving and water sports, whale/dolphin watching, canyoning adventures, plus dining and food specialties.
DESCRIBE THE IDEAL CLIENT/TYPE OF TRAVELLER WHO SHOULD VISIT DOMINICA.
Travellers interested in Dominica would be those who enjoy and appreciate nature, adventure, culture and great underwater activities. It’s a destination for individuals who actively seek-out authentic experiences, personal growth and the possibility of the unknown, and who understand that in order to maintain physical, mental and spiritual wellness, they must be in contact with nature.
WHAT ARE TRAVEL HABITS OF TRAVELLERS TO DOMINICA?
The overall average length of stay by Canadian visitors is 10.6 days (2016), however leisure travellers in hotels and similar accommodation stay on average 7.88 days (2016). The average spend by visitors to Dominica is approximately US $150 per day.
WHAT ARE “MUST DO” ACTIVITIES IN DOMINICA?
- Hike a Segment of the Waitukubuli National Trail
- Take a photo at the Emerald Pool
- Visit the majestic twin Trafalgar Falls
- Trek to the world’s second-largest boiling lake
- Snorkel in Champagne Pool
- Relax in one of our natural sulphur spas
- Take an Indian River boat ride
- Explore the historic Cabrits National Park
- Immerse yourself in the Kalinago experience
- Picnic on a black sand beach
WHAT EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE FOR TRAVEL ADVISORS INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THE DESTINATION?
Dominica conducts webinar training, sales calls and online training programs to enable travel advisors to learn more about the destination. Travel advisors have the opportunity to take the Dominica course and become a Dominica Specialist or Dominica Master Specialist, and also win attractive prizes. Canadian agents can sign-up here: www.dominicaexpertscanada.com.
NEED TO KNOW
- Dominica is the only Caribbean destination with a walking trail that extends the length of the island. The Waitukubuli National Trail Dominica is 185 kilometers long and is divided into 14 contiguous segments that can take an experienced hiker nearly two weeks to complete in its entirety.
- Dominica is known as the Whale Watching Capital of the Caribbean and is the only country in the world where sperm whales reside year-round.
- For visitors with a passion for flora and fauna, the island is home to more than 170 bird species, more than 1,000 species of flowering plants, 74 identified species of orchids and 200 types of ferns.
- The Kalinago Indians are the last indigenous people of the Caribbean. Kalinago Barana Aute provides a unique experience to learn about and appreciate the customs, practices and heritage of the Kalinago (Carib) people.
- The Morne Trois Pitons National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) has nearly 500 kilometers of footpaths, countless streams and waterfalls, and a well-established national park system.
- Dominica’s Indian River, near Portsmouth, served as an exotic backdrop for filming portions of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise.
- With a mountainous terrain and up to 300 inches of rainfall annually, Dominica boasts several majestic and breathtakingly beautiful waterfalls. The island’s abundance of fresh flowing water is fed by up to 300 inches of rainfall annually to give credence to the legend of its 365 rivers.
- The island’s major annual events include: Carnival (February/March), Jazz ‘n Creole (May), Hike Fest (May), Dive Fest (July), World Creole Music Festival (October) and Independence Day (November).
Interested in building your Dominica sales? Connect with yoga studios and outdoor groups in your neighbourhood, whose members’ interests align with those of visitors to Dominica. LIAT flies to Dominica directly from Barbados, Antigua and San Juan.
THE ISLAND EXPERIENCE
Unsure where to begin when it comes to planning your clients’ accommodations and activities while in Dominica? Here are a few ideas:
Dive Dominica is the first company to establish an organized, world-standard dive and whale watching operation in Dominica some 30-plus years ago. Its tours visit the island’s top dive sites in the Soufriere Scott’s Head Marine Reserve [SSMR]. What’s more? Situated on the
- Situated on the southwest coast just a mile south of Dominica’s capital, Roseau, Dive Dominica is only a 15-minute boat ride from the Reserve.
- The volcanic forces that formed the island’s vertical topography continue uninterrupted in this area, creating vertical walls that drop from lava pinnacles, representatives say. Seahorses, frogfish and a plethora of macro creatures are the highlights for divers in Dominica, though naturally, there are turtles and larger fish as well. Snorkellers can accompany the divers on the dive boats, or opt for a special Dive Dominica snorkelling tour to Champagne Reef.
- After a two-tank boat dive or snorkelling excursion, travellers still have afternoons free for topside adventures, such as a whale watching tour. Dominica’s sheer underwater drop-offs create deep sheltered bays that provide feeding grounds for 22 of the known 33 species of Cetaceans in the Caribbean.
- Dive Dominica’s accommodation partners, Castle Comfort Lodge and The Evergreen Hotel, can advise guests on the best options for their interest and fitness levels and arrange guided land excursions.
- Castle Comfort Lodge is a small, intimate Caribbean dive lodge located on the same property as Dive Dominica. The lodge has only 12 rooms, ideal for individuals, couples or small groups. A casual, waterfront restaurant and bar is also located on-site.
- The Evergreen Hotel is a charming sea-front hotel located adjacent to Dive Dominica. Facilities include 14 rooms plus one Ocean Side Hut, a waterfront restaurant and bar, fresh water swimming pool and conference room. www.divedominica.com
BUDDY DIVE DOMINICA
Dominica is equally wild, undiscovered and untouched below water as it is above. For clients interested in diving, Buddy Dive is a padi five-star idc and universal referral dive centre, located on the premises of the fort young hotel. The capital city of Roseau is only five minutes walking distance away with its many sites and attractions. Here’s what you need to know: The Buddy Dive shop is located
- The Buddy Dive shop is located at the waterfront and is fully equipped with a retail and equipment rental centre, showers and rinse tanks to offer all the conveniences needed for a dive vacation. The dive staff teaches a variety of courses in multiple languages, from common
- The dive staff teaches a variety of courses in multiple languages, from common padi courses to speciality dive courses and kids diving.
- Travellers can join-in on one of the daily departing two-tank boat dives to explore the northern & southern dive sites, where knowledgeable staff guide the way.
- With the island rated one of the world’s top 10 dive locations, Dominica’s unique champagne reef provides a rare experience for divers and snorkellers. In shallow water – just five meters – volcanic vents spew forth hot water and bubbles creating the effect of diving in a giant glass of champagne.
- For non-divers or those looking to combine land and sea excursions, the activity desk can arrange various tours, from visiting waterfalls, hiking the rainforest, snorkelling, swimming in hot pools and much more.
- Want to go whale watching? Join the Buddy Dive team for a whale watching trip by boat.
- Buddy Dive offers packages that include accommodation, breakfast, airport transfer, marine park fees and the combination of diving and activities of your clients’ choice. www.buddydivedominica.com
FORT YOUNG HOTEL
The Fort Young Hotel is a three-star property located on the outskirts of Roseau, nestled at the edge of a cliff overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Built around the walls of an old 18th-century fort, many of the original features have been retained in the public areas of the property.
- With 73 guest rooms, the property is suited for both business and leisure travellers, and specializes in hosting small meetings and orchestrating large group events. All rooms are fully air-conditioned, and all feature a terrace or balcony offering beautiful sea and sunset views.
- Room categories include Fort, Oceanfront, Deluxe Oceanfront and Oceanfront Suite.
- UPSELL TIP: While the Fort Rooms offer the lowest price, upgrade your clients to the Ocean Front rooms for extra comfort and better sea views.
- Among the amenities and facilities, guests can enjoy: free Wifi throughout, an outdoor pool, jacuzzi, lending library, business centre and fitness centre.
- Not to mention, the Fort Young is perfectly situated to go whale watching, hike through the rainforest, and see the waterfalls that stretch up behind the property. Activities and excursions are available on-site with Buddy Dive Dominica. www.fortyounghotel.com