he ‘Safe in Nature’ (SiN) program geared at providing a safe experience to visitors from major tourism markets to the Nature Island during this COVID-19 pandemic has been hailed a success both in terms of the compliance by the property and feedback by the visitors.
The program, which was launched on October 1st 2020, is a certification program which allows visitors to come to Dominica and serve their quarantine at a private certified facility (hotels or guest houses), enjoying a managed tourism experience. It was seen as a way of reopening the tourism sector within a pandemic.
“In terms of the program, we believe it’s been successful both in terms of the compliance by the property and also in terms of the feedback by the visitors,” Director of Tourism, Colin Piper said while speaking as a guest on Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Annou Palé talk show on Sunday.
According to Piper, since the launch of the program, about 82 properties have submitted an action plan and from that total 68 have been approved.
“Currently 65 properties are operating and that is because we received some reports, did some spot checks and revoked some certifications, because of evidence of some breaches,” Piper revealed. “So we have 65 properties that are operating right now. Of those 65 properties, 27 are doing water-based off property activity and 31 are doing off property land-based.”
He explained that for example, water-based would be scuba diving at Soufriere/Scottshead Marine area and land-based would be emerald pool, Middleham or the Waitikubuli National Trail.
Furthermore, he said 47 taxi drivers are certified with Safe in Nature, “and since October 1st, we have had 1,678 visitors from high risk classified countries come and stay at certified properties….so the program has been successful.”
He said ‘Safe in Nature’ has been an integral part of the country’s branding during COVID-19 and has helped to set Dominica apart from other destinations.
“It has really cemented our face as the Nature Island of the Caribbean, and so it will be my recommendation to continue with the program,” Piper indicated.
Meantime, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Lisa Valmond, said the feedback has been “tremendously positive” from all of the visitors.
“Dominica is unique and it is beautiful, so it is partly due to that, but I think during the pandemic they feel assured that their hosts are keeping them safe and the country safe as well,” she noted.
However, being successful has not prevented the government from reviewing and assessing the program, Valmond stated, pointing out that this is only the first of many reviews which will be conducted.
She noted that Covid-19 is “ever evolving” and the risks are also increasing.
“A the time in October when we first launched [Safe in Nature], for example our neighbours like Barbados and Antigua they were low risk, they were within the CARICOM bubble, however in recent times, we realized they moved quickly from low risk all the way to high risk,” the Tourism PS said. “So we had to take a step back and review the process.”
Additionally, Valmond said, there have been concerns in terms of breaches at the properties, “so it was really time for us to take a step back and look at the program again.”
She went on to say that new certifications have been halted effective January 15th until April 16th “while we look at the certification criteria, look at some of the common breaches and make recommendations to really enhance the program.”
Official website https://discoverdominica.com/en/travel-advisory-for-dominica
The list of certified Safe in Nature properties can be viewed at this link.