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I AM Tourism: An Anthropological Look at Dominicas Tourism Practices

Rachel Lenchner

ANTH 395: Ethnographic Experience in Dominica

James Madison University
Spring 2014


While my first passion academically is anthropology, my first passion in the job realm is
hospitality. I often get the question of how my passions overlap and why I chose to pursue both.
This is a funny question because, in my mind, I ask how do they not overlap? I will provide one
example with tourism. Tourism tends to be a subject neglected in both my hospitality studies, as
well as in my anthropological studies. However, it is a subject of great importance for both
fields. In anthropology, a blind eye is often given to the tourist, even though the tourist has a
huge impact on a culture. This effect is increasing with the growth of a global community, and
increased numbers of tourist activity. In hospitality, it is the tourist that is most often being
catered to yet, there is still, at my University, no course offered in tourism, specifically. What
should hospitality be looking at when considering tourism practices? It is the hotels, after all that,
bring the tourists. And how does this influx of tourism affect a community? A culture? These are
important questions for both hospitality and anthropology in developing a tourism curriculum.
You cant take something (like tourism) and just put it somewhere (like Dominica). Each
profoundly impacts the other. So what are the proper ways to address tourism? I decided that the
best way to answer my many questions was to look at one of my favorite tourist destinations: the
Caribbean. The Caribbean is a tropical cluster of islands falling between North and South
America. One island within this cluster stood out: Dominica.
Historical Review
Within the Caribbean, Dominica is among the Windward Islands, located between
Guadeloupe and Martinique. Dominicas topography is unique for the Caribbean because it is
extremely mountainous and hilly. The island is named the Nature Island due to its lush
abundance of rainforest, hot springs and natural resources. The weather is warm, as can be

expected, given Dominicas location so close to the equator, and sunny days are most common
with a few rain showers here and there.
Today, Dominica is home to 71,700 citizens ("Statistics"). Dominica is an island that is
felt within your soul the second you step off the plane; its overwhelming natural surroundings,
displays Mother Nature at her finest.
To get a better grasp of the islands culture, it is important to understand its roots, its
history. Dominica has not been sunbathing in the Atlantic Ocean all this time. In fact, the island
has gone through quite a lot. When Columbus first made it to the Caribbean in 1492, the native
people told him stories of people who ate other people, who they called Carib or Cariba and
from this the word Cannibal emerged. He then called the people of the area Carib based on this
misperception of the native people. A religious aspect of these island people is that they keep
their ancestral bones in their houses. The native people of Dominica however, called themselves
the Kalinago. The Kalinago now populate a small part of the island called the Carib Territory
The original name for the island was Waitukubuli, but Columbus renamed in Dominica. The
Kalinago resisted Spanish colonization, but the British and French tried to gain ownership of
Dominica. There were countless battles between the Kalinago, French and British throughout the
1600s. By 1727, there were around 55 French families in Dominica. The French settlers had little
organized rule, and often worked with pirates by selling them goods and storing pirates stolen
goods. (This is how The Pirates of the Caribbean movie is at least accurate, if only to a
minuscule degree). Soon the French settlers were also giving names to places on the island; these
names replaced, or were added onto the Carib names. Through the Peace of Paris in 1763,

Dominica was ceded to the British. Still, the French left a strong influence on the island, and left
many names for roads and towns remain today (Honychurch).
The British further established coffee estates, sugar cane crops and cassava as a cash crop.
Sugar estates also made rum. This created a problem for the island. Because they relied on cash
crops, they needed many imports to sustain themselves. The large plantations for cash crops also
encouraged the use of slave labor from Africa. Many aspects of Dominicas culture emerged
from the slave system. For example, dancing included the African rhythm and tempo combined
with dances of European origin. The earliest dance is the Bele, which has intense African
influence. The drums used were purely of African origin. Many of the games and songs however,
have been forgotten from that time period. Dress was also influenced by the slave culture.
African colors (such as vibrant oranges, greens and yellows) and turbans were added on to the
European dress (Honychurch).
Carnival or Masquerade was an Afro-French festival that included two days of feasting
before lent. Masquerade was originally like a brief, annual revolt against proper societal norms.
The people would wear costumes similar to those found in tribal, central African kingdoms.
Eventually, Carnival turned into a national cultural heritage. With this, the original satire of
Mascaraed was gone (Honychurch). Many of the traditions have been altered, as they have
become entertainment for outsiders. When traditions become entertainment for tourists, they lose
much of their cultural significance.
Later, the country began to have more and more of an agricultural economic base. In the
1900s, the revenue from cocoa and lime rose a great deal. Between 1914 and 1915, the island
was producing more than it consumed. Dominica not only had a flourishing amount of produce
but lush display of plants and greenery. Thus, the Botanical Gardens on the island gained an

impressive reputation. The gardens helped the island economically, and made the grounds
attractive and interesting. Lime production became an important trade with Britain and the U.S.
The value of lime even exceeded the production of cocoa. Andrew Green, an American
millionaire, came to Dominica and introduced advanced citrate processing machinery. Dominica
became the largest producer of limes in the world. This caused the island to gain a reputation for
its lush supply of resources (Honychurch).
Due to agricultural advancements, the increasing need for roads became more apparent and,
finally, by 1956, Dominica was spanned by roads. Due to the new expanse of roads, the flow of
merchandise and goods throughout the country increased. With the introduction of the Carib
territory, a new influx of tourists came to view the people of the island, and not just the scenery.
Portsmouth became one of the best harbors in the Lesser Antilles, and Prince Rupert Bay became
popular for pleasure yachts. Then in 1950 the islands first regular air link was introduced in
Portsmouth as well. Having a jet airport became a status symbol for the country. A hydropower
plant was constructed at Trafalgar. This allowed for standard pipes and water services within
homes. Then, on November 3, 1978, Dominica was granted independence from Britain. By 1978,
almost every village had at least one public phone. In 1983, cable television and videotaping
allowed the island to increase its means of communication. The success of the banana trade kept
Dominica economically stable and peaceful until 1992, when there was a sharp decline in banana
exports because Dominica lost its preferential position in the UK market ("DISCOVER THE
Due to unsuccessful strife within the agricultural realm, Dominica has shifted its focus.
According to the national Dominica website: Today, the Government of Dominica is investing
heavily in tourism to drive economic development, focusing on the island's unsurpassed natural

beauty, and the popularity of diving, hiking and eco tours ("DISCOVER THE HISTORY OF
DOMINICA."). However, Dominica does not provide the classic Caribbean getaway for tourists.
In 1961, the first hotel, Normandy Beach Hotel, was opened in Mero. It was then renamed
Castaway. It is interesting that the names are specifically for the English-speaking tourist, most
likely American or European. Fort Young was a 20-room-hotel, which became the most
successful on the island. The main traveler to the island would be business salesmen hoping that
Dominica would offer them opportunities for business. The tourist appeal was in the natural
island setting with forests, hot springs, and rivers. The island covers a unique market of tourism,
and considers itself the Nature Island of the Caribbean. In order to control the ecology of the
island several, large national parks have been reserved in areas of Dominica (Honychurch).
In the late 1980s, tourism started to emerge again in Dominica, and helped the island out in
numerous economic ways. The idea for spa development was first, since the island had numerous
hot springs. Dominica partnered with a German company to supply materials for tourism
promotion. This move had few results however. In the beginning, many tourism adventures came
and went, simply wasting time and effort. For example, an 880 acre site at Ponte Round was
purchased by Windward Estates/Guiness LTD (from the Cayman Islands) for EC $1.8, but the
government had to terminate the agreement in 1993 when the company could not provide the
capital necessary for their venture (Honychurch, 299).
The most prosperous ventures seemed to be those coming from local entrepreneurs who built
up their own independent industries. They found success by promoting the lush unspoiled
nature of Dominica. The fun scuba diving sites, full of submarine boiling springs, volcanic
pinnacles, and coral outcrops, attracted numerous scuba divers. A majority of the hotels were
small and privately owned, which allowed them to interlink with other industries (farmers,

restaurants, craftsmen, tour guides) on the island. While other Caribbean destinations suffered
the economic side effects of all-inclusive resorts, and international chain hotels, more money
per visitor was staying in Dominica than elsewhere (Honychurch, 300). By having the tourism
sector remain local, Dominica successfully avoided the plights many other Caribbean islands
went through when dealing with tourism. The local investment in the hospitality industry helped
to ensure the entire societal (social and economic) balance within the island.
However in 1995, increased drug-assaults and crime caused some concern about where the
industry was going. But then Dominica overcame this bump in the road by taking a lead in the
area of eco-tourism. Dominica saw a gap in eco-tourism development and worked to create
their own niche. Equally important, the National Park Service played a role in attracting tourists
as well. The parks created a positive image of Dominica as an island with proactive forest
management and wildlife conservation efforts. The attractive shores of the island soon drew in
cruise ships as well. The tourism industry proved that regulated growth, coupled with local
ownership, management and involvement at all levels, provided the stability for sustainability
development (Honychurch, 300). The key term here is sustainability something Dominica has
been seeking throughout the years. Since the island was first colonized back in 1493, it has
suffered time and again for being unable to sustain its self. Tourism may be the key to finding
new ideas, new pans, new ways of looking at the basic needs of our life and being able to
create what will be (Honychurch, 306).
Literature Review
Several individuals have published more recent studies of tourism in Dominica. In 1991,
David Weaver wrote a piece titled Alternative to Mass Tourism in Dominica. David Weaver

has a Ph. D in Geography and is an assistant professor, who specializes in the tourism industry of
underdeveloped regions. He has traveled to the Caribbean several times to conduct research.
Weaver defines the idea of alternative tourism as a general term that encompasses
multiple tourism strategies such as eco-, soft, responsible, people-to-people, smallscale, cottage, and green tourism. These tourism strategies offer an alternative to
conventional mass tourism (Weaver, 415). Alternative tourism can be broken down further into
either deliberate or circumstantial. Deliberate alternative tourism is implemented through policy
and planning to pursue certain goals, and it is rare that the efforts are applied to a whole country;
usually this happens in sample areas within a country. However, Dominica is a whole country
that has implemented alternative tourism techniques. Circumstantial alternative tourism happens
when a destination is following the typical stages of resort development. Alternative tourism will
exist at certain destinations, as a prelude for mass tourism. Once they become more popular,
attracting more outside capital, they will leave their model of alternative tourism and conform to
mass tourism (Weaver, 416).
David Weaver then describes Dominica as a sparsely populated country with an economy
based mainly in exported agriculture (Weaver, 418). The physical geography of Dominica
hinders large-scale tourism development and offers an offbeat, rough terrain for a more active
tourist. The lack of multiple white sand, resort-style beaches also deters the classic tourist.
Weaver goes through the obstacles preventing large-scale tourism on the island, including a lack
in tourist facilities, and no airfield large enough for a mass influx of tourists at one time. He
argues that expansion of the airport and airplane systems would benefit both agriculture and
tourism. It would facilitate exportation of agricultural goods and attract a higher volume of
tourists (Weaver, 419).

There are also many historical factors that deter tourists from visiting Dominica.
Dominica has some negative reputations to overcome; Hurricane David, the Black Power
movement, and the acts of the Dreads all contribute a negative image. Weaver notes that within
the local Caribbean islands, Dominica has had the lowest tier in the tourism hierarchy (Weaver,
The UN sponsored a report that said Dominica should market towards specialized groups,
like environmentalists. In this case, Dominicas geography would become a major marketing
asset. After the Kastarlak Report of 1975 was released, Dominica established its first national
park and created new marketing goals (Weaver, 420).
Dominicas alternative tourism strategy emphasizes the natural environment. The level of
accommodations, the market and the economy will determine the future of alternative tourism
practices on the island. At the moment, Dominica fits the accommodations sector of alternative
tourism very well, since the alternative tourism model includes: small-scale, locally owned
facilities dispersed at low densities throughout the destination (Weaver, 421). The
concentration of people in Roseau is a unique aspect, and the interior of the island has few
accommodations. Dominica also follows the pattern of local control and local ownership, and if
there are areas of outside control, it is from several sources and not just one country (Weaver,
422). Based on the market, Weaver suggests that Dominica may be entering the development
stage of the resort cycle, thus changing the future of Dominicas tourism. However, to counter
that idea, the new increase in arrivals could be associated with the environmentalist fad and thus
the trend may be short lived (Weaver, 423). One beneficial aspect of alternative tourism is that it
strives to diversify the market base. Intraregional arrivals are more common to destinations like
Dominica and they are more likely to consume local goods, contributing to the local economy.

These types of tourists also like to participate in unconventional activities like hiking or horse
back riding. The advertisement of 365 rivers shows a more alternative tourism approach;
instead of the 365 beaches a conventional mass tourism approach would take. Alternative
tourism is also not as vulnerable to seasonality (Weaver, 426).
Since tourism does not dominate the economy of Dominica, there are other sectors of the
economy to fall back on if the tourism sector fails (Weaver, 427). Also, since the agricultural
sector of Dominica is so big, it needs fewer imports to fall back on to satisfy the tourist (Weaver,
428). In conclusion, Dominica would be unsuited for mass tourism, however an ecologically
based tourism seems like a long-term option for alternative tourism practices in Dominica. The
governmental implementation of policies to support locally owned, small-scale accommodations,
and to attract people from a wide range of countries, as well as promoting the environment, will
sustain Dominica as an alternative tourism destination (Weaver, 429).
In 2003, four professors at the University of Maryland, Trista Patterson, Tim Gulden, Ken
Cousin and Egor Kraev, conducted research and a final paper on tourism in Dominica as well.
The title of their paper was Integrating environmental, social, and economic systems: a dynamic
model of tourism in Dominica. This paper demonstrates how Dominicas economic, ecological
and social domains intersect.
This document took a more analytical approach to the dynamic effects of tourism. The
document focuses on three main systems: economic, social and environmental. While the
economic system is relatively easy to quantify, the social and environmental systems proved
harder to quantify and create data for. Thus, each system was approached systematically, piece
by piece.


Their goal was to conceptualize the impacts of various tourism development strategies
over a time, (Patterson, 122) and highlight the interactions between ecology, economy and
society. Dominica is used as a case study because of its tourism issues as a development concern.
The population findings were interesting in that the birth rate is similar to that of the US
and they have a significantly lower death rate. Since the islands population has remained stable it
is concluded that out-migration must be the factor keeping population stable, and not increasing.
Then they looked at the influence of social capital. Dominicas social system is highly
networked because of the small population. Social capital is looked at through a focus on social
norms and social networking. Social norms create a common identity between all Dominicans.
There is concern about how the tourists impact the host culture, by creating a loss of tradition, or
creating competition with globally dominant foreign norms (Patterson, 124). Increased contact
with foreigners seems to weaken long-standing social structures and norms. When looking at the
forest habitat, there were two factors that affected it: tourist damage to trails and trees, and
subsistence practices (such as fishing and hunting). Tourist activity also impacts the coastal zone
of Dominica, through diving or boating.
The professors at University of Maryland divided the economy of Dominica into its
primary sections: tourism, export agriculture, export manufacturing, government, and the internal
domestic economy. There is debate as to whether the tourism sector is limited by the size of
airport facilities and accommodations. For the export-manufacturing sector, it was noted that
almost all export manufacturing is foreign-owned. This foreign ownership causes a relatively
small contribution to the internal economy, outside of wages and taxes. Revenues toward the
internal economy are largely from export agriculture, tourism and government spending. There
are economic pressures for land use. The land needed for urban expansion is withdrawn from the


subsistent agriculture land (Patterson, 132). The ecological overlap is from the idea that the
vitality of the Dominican environment becomes a tourist draw. Subsistence activities equally rely
on the quality of the natural habitats on the island.
Society overlaps with ecology in the idea of having a pride of place, and having
traditional community activities within the ecological environment (like hunting) that reinforce
social networks (Patterson, 133). Wage sharing (when the unemployed are supported by the
employed) creates social capital that can be decreased by ecosystem pressure. Having a strong
social network and a strong sense of national identity creates a draw for tourism. A vibrant host
community creates a positive experience for a tourist, and creates return to such destinations.
Good economic periods are linked to reduced immigration, and thus, population growth. In order
to have a quality tourist experience, and a good tourist demand, the sectors and domains must
remain healthy.
The idea of the tourism multiplier is described, which is, the extent to which tourist
dollars are re-spent in the local economy, thereby stimulating further economic activity
(Patterson, 134). The tourism multiplier has recently been falling due to an increase in foreign
ownership of tourist facilities, or possibly due to local owners investing their money abroad
(Patterson, 135). The system is interactive and dynamic, and in order to understand the full
system, one must look at its complex counterparts.
Most recently Sascha-Lena Henckell wrote a thesis titled Representing the Carib an
Analysis of Tourism and Development in the Island of Dominica. Henckell looked at newspaper
media coverage of Dominica to examine the views of the Carib people and non-Carib people, in
reference to tourism. She used The Sun and The Chronicle as her two newspaper sources, as well
as a variety of other sources, to aid her research.


She starts off with pointing out that Dominica has had difficulty making the transition
from an agriculturally based economy to a tourism-based economy (Henckell, 27). Dominicas
economy is a crossroad between eco-tourism and agriculture (Henckell, 28). The author
implies that tourism needs to be more embedded within the Dominican educational curriculum
(Henckell, 28). The island has many natural features that are incorporated in the advertising plan.
The Carib use of eco-tourism methods creates a system of resource management that helps
revive their culture and environment. Since the Carib use natural products that help maintain the
environment, they can, very successfully, implement eco-tourism.
However, there are obstacles, such as weather and natural disasters, when developing
Dominicas image as a tourist destination (Henckell, 31). The idea of adventure tourism has
emerged recently. Michael Owen used Dominica as a setting for an adventure program. The
island is perfect for reality-based adventure since it has no mass tourism and isnt overly
commercialized. The eco-tourism positioning is too passive, and it now seems that the island will
position itself as an adventure destination instead (Henckell, 32). By creating an economic
incentive, sustainable tourism has created more natural resource preservation and cultural
The Carib report most of their income from sales of handicraft work. Caribs also work as
taxi drivers, tour guides and guesthouse proprietors. The Carib people themselves have become a
main point of intrigue for tourists visiting Dominica. Dominica is rare since it is such an
untouched island, and that natural image appeals to people. Dominicas reputation is growing as
an eco-tourism destination.
Dominicans have been pressured to create package deals, including tours, due to the
increase of cruise ship dockings and dependence on cruise ship money. In 2004, a tram through


the jungle was promoted as a sustainable project. There is significant representation of Carib
people in the local newspaper and media. However there are many locals upset that tourism is
becoming the economic foundation for the island. The Carib also have to deal with forms of
inequality on the island, and often other Dominicans treat the Carib like second-class citizens.
The Disney representation of the Carib as cannibals re-enforced a stereotype that the Carib
community was trying to shed. This means the press has a large influence on the lives of the
Carib people (Henckell, 41). The development of the Carib reputation as Cannibalistic has
created a negative stereotype. The Carib are still a strong tourist attraction and they have
contributed to Dominicas international image. The Carib have also helped develop areas of
agriculture, tourism, art, crafts and sports. The Carib model village is an eco-tourism site that has
drawn a number of visitors to the Carib territory. The Carib chief has encouraged them to be
more educated about the history and use of their land.
Cultural tourism has explored ways to use the culture and heritage to increase the number
tourists. One vantage point the Carib have is that they are the oldest remaining group of
indigenous people in the Caribbean (Henckell, 46). Cultural tourism packages and frames
culture for consumptive purposes (Henckell, 47), and it is also an important marketing tool. The
objectives of cultural tourism include: a) the conservation of cultural resources; b) accurate
interpretation of resources; c) authentic visitors experience; and d) the stimulation of earned
revenue from cultural resources (Henckell, 48). The best way to give the Carib a voice is
through storytelling. Dominicans are still learning how to be loving and welcoming towards
tourists. Attacks on tourists (mostly robberies) have led to a negative effect on the tourist volume.
Attacks on the tourist have the most damaging results for the entire island. Overall, tourism is a


positive gain in the way Carib culture is represented and helps the Carib prosper economically.
Tourism could be the answer for bringing Dominica out of its economic hardships.
Exotisizing creates a divide in views of the Carib people and the government
(Henckell, 58). This divide is often due to the perception of non-governmental support and
funding. Many fear tourism because it could create a second-class or subservient feel of locals to
visitors of the island. Many islands in the Caribbean have experienced huge impacts from too
many tourists such as the depletion of natural resources. That is why it is important that
Dominica keeps up its preservation efforts.
A thesis written by Doug Donnellan, dives into the environmental effects of tourism
while he looks at eco-tourism in developing countries. Tourism creates the main environmental
damage to a location, even more so on developing islands. While in Dominica the main argument
against tourism is that it would take away more natural land, and could damage the environment
of the island. The first ecological damage that tourists cause is through their methods of
transportation. Building airports harms more of the islands environment, and then the increase in
airplane arrivals pollutes the air. While airplane traffic pollutes the air, the marine ecosystem is
being immensely harmed by cruise ships, which produce 70,000 tons of waste each year
(Donnellan, 38). Donnellan points out that due to the harmful effect of tourism, and the fact that
many countries need tourism to sustain their economies, Ecotourism is the answer for
sustainable growth and development and is the long-term solution to the developmental problems
that most island states encounter (Donnellan, 42). Donnellan agrees with the dynamic model
tourism must take to keep its subsections thriving and healthy. Tourism-specific adaption and
mitigation measures are required to sustain both the tourism industry and the resources on which
it depends (Donnellan, 46). Thus eco-tourism is necessary for all countries in order to keep the


tourism profits higher than the expenses--socially, economically and environmentally. These
findings in many ways support what I found while in Dominica, studying tourism.
At James Madison University, I was given the opportunity to take a course with Professor
Amy Paugh, who has been to Dominica multiple times for field research. This course required
that we do our own field research in Dominica, over spring break. As a class, we traveled to
Dominica and stayed in Paix Bouche. Here, we got the chance to interact with locals on a daily
basis and ask them questions about their community, and Dominica in general. We were also able
to see a large portion of the island over the course of nine days.
Data was collected in several ways. I took field notes and kept a daily journal of my
interactions and experiences. I also carried a small notebook for jottings so I could easily write
important things at a moments notice throughout the day. Additionally, I collected data through
advertisements, magazines, pamphlets and other visual indicators of tourism marketing
One of the main shortcomings of my research was the time limit for conducting research.
We were only given nine days, and many of those days were filled with activities and instances
where relevant research couldnt be gathered. Ideally, staying for several months or a year would
have been more sufficient. However, given the short time period I was still very able to collect
insightful data and relevant findings.
While in Dominica I was introduced to a new idea: Agro-tourism. At the agricultural
center, I was told about this concept and how agriculture and tourism are combining their


commonalities for marketing purposes. It is becoming more common for hotels and sights where
tourist stay, to grow food crops throughout the grounds so tourist can pick their own food to
prepare. This creates an active way for the tourist to participate in one of the leading industries in
Dominica. This idea also follows the nature island ideal, and promotes a very organic, natural,
readily available food source. Resorts and Hotels have been increasingly planting more fruit trees
on their grounds, seeing that it is a tourist draw. Weaver mentioned how creating a bigger and
better airport in Dominica would not only allow for a higher volume of tourists but would help
with greater agriculture exports (Weaver, 419). Thus transportation means are another way
tourism and agriculture overlap.
The main threat to agriculture however, is tourism. Not through the tourists themselves,
but for the decreasing drive amongst locals, to pursue the field of agriculture. This relates back to
Henchells observation of a crossroads between agriculture and tourism. With tourism
increasing globally, more and more Dominicans are entering the tourism industry instead of
agriculture. The Independent Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport magazine
reported: The Tourism industry has become a key player in economic growth over the past
several years since the demise of the banana industry The external demand for agriculture is
decreasing. This decrease in external demand is due, in large part, to other countries being more
able to mass-produce crops and foreign trade agreements. There is also the stigma of agriculture
as a lazy job, which further discourages individuals from joining the field. I received mixed
reviews on agriculture from individuals. Some felt that Dominica should stick to agriculture as
its main competency since many other islands create too much competition with the tourism
market. It was also pointed out that Dominica is an agricultural-based society where the boys are
expected to care for the animals and do much of the physical work while the girls work closer to


the home and tend gardens. Thus, many see agriculture as the direction for Dominica. However,
tourism is growing as a mainly female-dominated field, and is an area where women can prosper
economically. During a gender discussion we had while in Dominica one person exclaimed: I
love to eat what I grow when asked about agriculture. This explains a lot about how
Dominicans are connected to the nature of the island. Dominicans treasure the islands natural
beauty very highly, and it was common that they would describe some natural element of
Dominica as their favorite aspect of living there. It is interesting how tourism promotes these
natural aspects and has been a huge part of Dominicas original plan for of eco-tourism
throughout the island.
The island provides plentiful raw materials for tourists. The tourist can get local fresh
food easily. Dominica, too, is described as still the primitive garden that Columbus first sighted
in 1493. An area of tropical rainforests, flowers of incredible beauty and animals that exist
nowhere else in the world (Sheller, 68). However, there are conflicts the Nature Island has
with tourism. For example, some of the mountains would need to but cut down to make room for
a bigger and better airport that could accommodate a greater tourist influx. When talking with
Honychurch, Dominicas most noted historian, one thing he mentioned that could become a good
eco-tourist practice, would be using geothermal power (from the boiling lakes) to power the
island. Honychurch also mentioned how the mountainous nature of Dominica contributes to
everything else (tourism included). Dominica is most geared towards hikers or botanists. The
branding as the Nature Island in 1890 has given Dominica its perfect identity. By taking tourism,
and focusing it on the natural attributes of Dominica it can succeed. Weaver supported
Dominicas promotion policy when he reported how The United Nations-sponsored report
suggested that the strength of Dominica tourism was found in specialized groups such as


environmentalists (Weaver, 420). The country has extensive trail systems and promotes its
numerous rivers. This all contributes to tourists, such as those from National Geographic and the
Sierra Club, coming to Dominica.
One large indicator of the growing tourism industry in Dominica was how frequently I
met students majoring in tourism management. One night I met a girl, named Cathy, who was a
tourism major and her greatest concern was tourism in relation to conservation. Cathy told me
how she loves nature, and if she were to have a resort it would be secluded with lots of nature
and woods surrounding it. She also mentioned that most tourists dont like to hike a lot, and
Dominica is a very active island. This is why Dominica must cater towards a specific niche in the
tourism industry. Roselyn Paul, Trail Operations Manager at the Waitukubuli National Trail
Management Unit and a head figure in the community, described the Paix Bouche Community
Heritage tourism plan to me, which had a strong emphasis on promoting the islands trails. For
example they host the Nature Island Challenge, which is promoted on the TV and through social
media, and there was team USA, Trinidad and Antigua. There is also the One Run, which is a
challenge to run the whole Waitukubuli National Trail in 5 days and helps promote tourism as
well. The Paix Bouche community has environmental education sessions where the community
gives trees and promotes to keep their community clean. Judges go around the island to help
enforce keeping the island clean and pretty; which all contributes to the representation of the
island towards tourists. All the nature adventure events help draw in the tourists that are in
Dominica for the natural aspects of the island.



From an economic prospective, Dominica is such a resource rich country that it is very
possible for it to stay, internally, sustainable. This is the goal for many involved in agriculture.
But there is also a large percentage of Dominicans who feel it would be better to get more
tourists, and that tourism could help the economy as it has on other islands. One Dominican I
spoke with said she wanted more tourism because it would create more income and development
of the country. She felt tourism had a big part to play in Dominica, and it would create better
opportunities. When speaking to Honychurch he talked about how foreign financial aid has been
given to boost tourism in Dominica, and that the EU put 50 million EC to help develop tourism.
While visiting Honychurch I even saw a sign that read: Renovation and restoration of Fort
Shirley was executed with funding provided to the government of the commonwealth of
Dominica by the European Union for the eco-tourism development programme, which further
emphasizes the level of foreign economic involvement in tourism in Dominica. Honychurch also
talked about the restoration work on historic sites, and how that has been a big draw for tourists
as well. One thing he noted was how foreign hotels find it hard to get funding, and often fail.
From what I gathered while in Dominica, it appears that the most successful hotels are those that
are locally owned and who know the island best, and can work with what it has to offer. In
research done by the professors at University of Maryland they explained the tourism
multiplier which is the extent to which tourist dollars are re-spent in the local economy,
thereby stimulating further economic activities (Patterson, 134). Locally owned hotels are also
more likely to contribute to the countries tourism multiplier than foreign hotels. Therefore,
locally owned hotels not only prosper from having previous knowledge abut the islands
advantages, but they also contribute the islands economic prosperity as a whole.


When talking with tourism students who live in Dominica, it seems that they have similar
job concerns as students in the U.S. and the burden of finding a solid job is troublesome to them.
Many report that it is still hard to get a job, and that to get a job you must, at least, have a
Bachelor of Science degree. One girl who I spoke with at the tourism center found it so hard to
get a job that her only option was to go through the government and have them place her in a job.
Still, others feel college can also be a waste of time because you are missing work opportunities
and many employers look at experience, not the degree. Many employers wont hire applicants
with degrees because they require higher salaries. For example, Cathy who graduated with a
tourism management degree ended up being employed through the youth development division
since she found it difficult to get a job in tourism. Still, the most common majors at the
university are business, tourism and nursing according to several students I talked with at a panel
in Dominica, were we discussed current social concerns and beliefs. In Sascha-Lena Henckells
thesis from 2007 on Dominican tourism she reported how there would be tremendous
improvements in the education system if tourism curriculum was introduced in the school system
to add to Dominicas burgeoning tourism industry (Henckell, 28). Now in 2014, the tourism
curriculum is one of the most common at the Universities which is likely reflective on
Dominicas increasing development of tourism. The Waitukubuli National Trail is creating jobs
in the tourism industry such as trail or tour guides. The trail networks, along with other services
and hotels create packaged deals to get tourists contributing to multiple tourism segments on the
island. According to the Paix Bouche Community Heritage Tourism Plan, the trail adds $80,000
to the economy each month. There is a fear since it seems that everyone is pulling out and going
towards tourism and many worry about the economy not being diversified enough. There is also
the fear that with more people in the labor force, children are home on their own more and more,


resulting in the loss of many traditions and cultural aspects, since the parents arent home to
teach them.
Foreign relations
Dominicas foreign relations are affecting the country as a whole. China is one of the
biggest contributors to Dominicas economy. This was obvious at the agriculture center where
Chinese technology and practices were being implemented everywhere. The Chinese own a
majority of businesses in Dominica. Dominica is struggling in an economic war with China,
since they are in debt to China. However, Dominica has mostly positive relations with its close
foreign neighbors. Hucksters buy and sell products over at other islands and much trading goes
on between the islands. It is hard to compare tourism on neighboring islands with that in
Dominica since Dominica does not offer a classic beach holiday. Many of the tourists that come
are European, or are from the other islands in the Caribbean. I was surprised to hear about the
great deal of Caribbean tourists that come to Dominica; who wish to get away from their own
island and experience something new.
Social/Community Wellness
Tourism started at a community base. Originally, guesthouses were used for visitors of
the island with most visitors being from near-by islands. From that local small hotels have
emerged and been the most successful. One interesting note on Dominicas tourism model is that
it is no longer focused on eco-tourism, and is now emphasizing adventure tourism: from a
repositioning initiative in 2006, Dominica expanded its positioning from Nature to include
culture and adventure (Independence Committee and the Ministry of Culture). Adventure
tourism allows for more aspects of Dominican culture, and different economic sectors of the
country, to be included in the countrys tourism plan. One of the main cultural traditions


emphasized at the tourism information center in Dominica was the islands traditional music (folk
songs, creole songs and patwa songs). There has been a shift towards community-based tourism
(as Roselyn Paul pointed out). The womens club produces local crafts to sell to tourists. There
have also been new ideas for community tours to give tourists a chance to see the different
communities within Dominica. There are also efforts to promote Dominica as a national
community, and offering stay overs in communities throughout the island. This shift to adventure
tourism will hopefully get more overnight tourists. Cathy told me that one of the major tourist
attractions is Carnival, which is highly promoted and advertised in Dominica. They get multiple
cruise ships in port for this event.
One of the most advertised tourist attractions in Dominica is the Kalinago, as mentioned
before. When visiting the Kalinago model village, there is a set up for tourists to walk through
and see the Kalinago way of life, first hand. For the most part, the Kalinago offer tourists hand
made baskets and other crafts. I visited the Kalinago model village back in 2008. When I
returned in 2014, I noticed that they offered more crafts, and that the selection of craft was more
varied. Most notably, the jewelry selection had varied and increased the most, suggesting that
there is a higher demand from tourists for Kalinago-made jewelry. They have also added a
section to the model village where there are coconut-shaving heads on sticks to represent each
chief from the Kalinago reserve. It is interesting that this was not there in 2008, suggested that it
is not a tradition, and was likely added for tourist appeal and to coincide with what the tourist
believes a native society should look like. This is also a good example of how tourism packages
and frames culture for consumptive purposes as Henckell pointed out before. This plays into the
concern that was previously brought up by Patterson about how the tourists impact the host
culture, by creating a loss of tradition, or creating competition with globally dominant foreign


norms (Patterson, 124) This makes me wonder how much of the Kalinago representation was
accurate and historically correct, and how much of it was portrayed to appease the tourist.
Anglo-American visitors continually construct the Caribbean through a trope of barbarism,
which allowed them to glide easily from viewing the tropical landscape as romantically wild to
interpreting its inhabitants as primitive racial types (Sheller, 65). The Kalinago both dislikes
this image while at the same time advertise and promote it. For example in the magazine I got on
the plane while heading to Dominica there was an article on the Kalinago, which quoted them
saying, We still live off the land and in tune with nature. We are blessed to be living in natural
surroundings, and that feeling permeates our lives (Gajek, 52).
Talking with Cathy again, I learned that although, Dominicans provides very good
customer service for tourists, they still need to improve customer service towards fellow
Dominicans. She told me how foreigners are treated better than locals, and there needs to be an
improvement with customer service towards locals, and towards others from the Caribbean. This
is an important issue since many tourists in Dominica are from other islands in the Caribbean.
Roselyn Paul, a cultural leader, described her efforts to promote cultural tourism
practices. There are strong efforts to preserve cultural on the island, such as dance, ring games
and cuisine. As mentioned earlier this is important since having a strong social network and a
strong sense of national identity creates a draw for tourism. The experience Dominica 2014
magazine proudly promotes community tourism efforts: Twenty-two community tourism
projects, connected through the Dominica Community Tourism Association (DCTA), which
embody and edify the true essence of Dominica, its culture and its people ("Community
Tourism." 24). There are efforts to showcase the natural heritage, such as old trails and old slave
routes. Dominicas population is a mix of African, Kalinago, British and French, thus creating a


unique cultural environment. By promoting a strong culture and maintaining social capital, the
crime rate decreases, and Roselyn Paul sees these values as important to pass onto the younger
individuals and communities, to keep Dominica thriving. The rural communities are beginning to
gain more attention through trail expansion and tourism. Home-stay opportunities for tourists are
also increasingly. By staying and living with a family, a tourist can get a better sense of the
culture. Projections for the medium term place tourism stay over arrivals at a target of 90,000
by the year 2015 (Independence Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports).
Community wellness and welcoming efforts hope to help towards reaching this target. The
Princess pageants (which are pageant shows they hold for young women) are promoting
community wellbeing and positive values. Roselyn Paul points out that there needs to be a
collective movement to bring back the effort in welcoming visitors (such as tourist) to the
I believe that if possible I would have liked to do my research on the island for a longer
amount of time. To produce more thorough research more time would have allowed me to ask a
greater variety of people questions and discover more insights. I would have liked the
opportunity to visit an actual hotel and go to the universities on the island that teach tourism
management to get a better sense of what the tourism teaching and implementation practices are
first hand. Future research possibilities could be looking more in depth into the education system
implemented for tourism and the government involvement. Looking at a collection of tourism
management students in future research would also help determine where tourism is likely
headed in the future for the country. This was the main pool of information that I felt was
missing when I looked at other literature and my own findings in Dominica. I think that more


research on the education system within tourism is greatly affecting the society within Dominica
and is an important factor to consider.
Other possibilities for future research would be to look at other islands in the Caribbean
or islands around the world that are changing and becoming more economically dependent on
tourism and see comparatively how islands deal with tourism and what different factors on each
island cause them to deal with these practices/influences differently.


Works Cited
"Community Tourism." Experience Dominica: Nature Island 2014 1 Jan. 2014: 24-25. Web.
"DISCOVER THE HISTORY OF DOMINICA." History & Culture : Discover Dominica, the
Nature Island. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Donnellan, Doug. Eco-tourism in Developing Countries. Thesis. Colorado College, 2009.
N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
Gajek, Margret. "Voices From The Past." Zing Caribbean 22 Jan. 2014: 50-54. Print.
Henckell, Sascha-Lena. Representing the Carib: An Analysis of Tourism and Development on the
Island of Dominica. Thesis. California State University, Long Beach, 2007. N.p.: n.p.,
n.d. Print.
Honychurch, Lennox. The Dominica Story: A History of the Island. London: Macmillan, 1995.
Independence Committee and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. No date.
Commemorative Magazine: Celebrating 35 years of Dominicas Independence.
Dominica: Paramount Printers Ltd.
Patterson, Trista, Tim Gulden, Ken Cousins, and Egor Kraev. "Integrating Environmental, Social
and Economic Systems: A Dynamic Model of Tourism in Dominica." Ecological
Modelling 175.2 (2004): 121-36. Print.
Sheller, Mimi. Consuming the Caribbean: From Arawaks to Zombies. London: Routledge, 2003.
"Statistics." UNICEF. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2014.
Weaver, David B. "Alternative to Mass Tourism in Dominica." Annals of Tourism Research 18.3
(1991): 414-32. Print.