Dominica vacation, after the hurricane

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Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Dominica vacation, after the hurricane

Environment

The most glaring impact of the Hurricane has been the large scale of destruction. Across Dominica all aspects of life / civilization and development have been dealt a killer blow by the category 5 monster hurricane.

Approximately 67 residents were reported to have lost their lives / went missing, and well over 95 % of the housing stock was severely damaged. Additionally almost 99 % of the forest was impacted, and most of the agriculture was destroyed. All of the 365 rivers (known in Dominica) overflowed their banks causing catastrophic destruction - tearing through buildings, vehicles, vegetation....and indeed everything in their path, and providing a trail of destruction and piles of garbage strewn everywhere.

While the clean up and rebuilding campaign is almost 3 months old, there is just so much that it still untouched, and much of the mess is still laying along the roadways and within the villages across the island. Our plan is to get our visitors involved in the cleaning effort, and to get the waste and garbage off the roadways, out of the villages and river courses.

From an entirely different perspective, our tour proposes for our guests to live through conditions very similar to that being experienced by locals. The accommodation will be a mix of local village inns and home stay arrangements, and food will be mostly from the soil and will include root crops, legumes, vegetables and mostly fish.

It must be mentioned that electric power has not yet been restored to most of the island, and so tour participants will not have the comforts of electric lighting as well as air condition.

The impact of the tour on the environment will be minimal as for lighting guests will use a combination of led and solar lamps and will also have no access to fans and air conditioners and will rely on the use of mosquito nets for protection from the insects. Additionally, guests will be encouraged to do like the locals do....and use the river for laundering dirty clothing whenever the schedule allows.

Community

A large aspect of what we've always done within our Experiences Caribbean brand has been to work with and through local communities - using local resources and personnel wherever possible to ensure benefits to locals. This Hurricane Maria tour will be no different, and in addition to being designed to showcase the impact of the hurricane, we strive to encourage interaction with the locals so that friendships and relationships can be developed.

In essence this Hurricane Maria themed tour will provide for volunteering and offers participants the opportunity to provide assistance to disadvantaged people within the communities. We encourage the participants to donate / provide supplies and other items that they think will be in demand - personal care items, clothing, books, and food, and will also encourage participation at the Corporate level.....so that the community can benefit from 'large' donations and long term relationships.

From a different perspective we do sincerely hope that this programme can be a catalyst and opportunity for change of local habits and attitudes, as regards the approach by many to the use of our natural resources. Under normal circumstances and with our 365 rivers, water conservation has not been practiced and there has been little concern about water unavailability. (Hurricane Maria has changed this, and shown how vulnerable and fragile our resource bases are). We do hope that the presence of the visitors will remind the local communities of the need to be frugal with the water use, especially within those communities where pipe borne water has not yet been restored, and water needs will have to be 'bucketed in' for the convenience and use by the visitor.

Additionally in the very same vein, with our very fertile soils our agriculture has traditionally been first rate, and there has been the unfortunate waste of local food produce and often extravagance in eating habits - often relying too heavily on low value synthetic imports. The combination of the downturn in the economy and the unavailability of many food items at this time, has forced back into being (more) frugal with what we eat and consume, and to be creative in our kitchens. These traits have been long lost highlights of our local culture/tradition and these will be a big part of the visitor experience ........which we hope in the long run will be a catalyst to 'going back to local', and stimulus to using things local and conserving supplies - especially when they are in short supply.

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