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Dominica: One Year after Maria

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© Flickr PHOTO: Aftermath of Hurricane Maria in Dominica. (photo via Flickr/The Office of Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt)

By Brian Major, TravelPulse

September 2018 marks one year since back-to-back Category 5 hurricanes wracked several Caribbean destinations. While it was largely spared from Irma’s impact, Dominica was among the Lesser Antilles islands hard-hit by Maria.

As we continue to monitor the Caribbean storm season, TravelPulse takes a look back at the region’s recovery since Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria hit last September.

Dominica had just recovered from the significant damage caused by Tropical Storm Erika when Hurricane Maria struck. The storm devastated large swaths of the mountainous nation, claiming 30 lives and causing damage and losses exceeding $1.3 billion, equal to 225 percent of the country’s annual economic output according to Discover Dominica Authority (DDA) officials.

Dominica’s government has since launched a recovery plan in partnership with the World Bank, which is providing $65 million for reconstruction. Plan priorities include adopting climate-smart agricultural techniques and encouraging resilient building practices.

In addition, many of the tourism-reliant nation’s visitor attractions are open.

“Twenty-one of our 23 top sites toured by visitors have reopened since January,” said Colin Piper, DDA’s CEO. “The dive product continues to rank among the best in the region and the world [and] most importantly the hills of Dominica are green again.”

Piper added, “The progress made this past year represents a milestone in the recovery process during which the people of Dominica, and the natural environment itself, have shown their resilience and indomitable spirits.”

Improved Air and Sea Access

Dominica’s airports, Douglas-Charles and Canefield, were spared major damage and air connectivity was restored by October 2017. Both facilities are now fully open; Douglas-Charles offers same-day connectivity with international flights. Dominica’s L’Express des Iles is also available and a new operator, Val Ferry, launched service between Dominica and Guadeloupe in August.

Long a significant cruise port, Dominica is rebuilding its previously robust traffic. Ship re-routings and storm-generated itinerary changes limited the island to only 33 cruise ships during the 2017-2018 season (out of an expected 219 visits prior to Maria).

Carnival Cruise Line has stepped into the void, resuming its Dominica service aboard s 2,056-passenger Fascination with bi-weekly stops between July and November. Dominica is projected to host 181 calls (carrying 304,031 passengers) during the 2018-2019 cruise season.

Hotels Reopened

A majority of Dominica’s properties are open, with more than 540 rooms available, representing more than 50 percent of the 962 rooms available prior to hurricane Maria.

Piper said several properties used Marie as an opportunity to undertake significant renovations. Two hotels, Secret Bay and Jungle Bay, are scheduled to re-open in November and February, respectively.

The Fort Young Hotel, a signature Dominica property, is currently operating with 40 rooms while undergoing a major renovation that will add 60 new rooms. The property is slated to re-open in October 2019.

Severely damaged by hurricane Maria, Citrus Creek Plantation will re-open in December. Additionally, two new luxury hotels will debut in Dominica in October 2019: the Cabrits Resort Kempinski Dominica and the Anichi Resort, part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.

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