Tourism in Dominica persists despite pandemic’s impact

The country is balancing health protocols with keeping the economy afloat, says PM Skerrit 

ROSEAU, DOMINICA — Tourism workers in Dominica are seeing steady business every week despite the undeniable ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic on tourism-dependent nations like many in the Caribbean.

This is according to Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who expressed some measure of optimism about the economic prospects even while highlighting the lengths his government continues to go to in an effort to keep the economy afloat.

“Activity in tourism continues even with the restrictions on travel worldwide. We are seeing the weekly arrival of cruise ship visitors to the island under the strictest health and safety guidelines,” said Skerrit.

The welcome area of the cruise ship terminal in Roseau, Dominica, on February 6, 2019. (Photo: Chris Allen)

“This, I think, is one clear example of the commitment of this government to keep the wheels of the economy turning in the face of this dire health crisis.

“From all reports, I’m told that those who are involved in providing services to the cruise visitors, this past week was a very successful week for all of them, and I thank God for that.”

As he sought to defend his government’s position on keeping businesses open in the face of a potential COVID-19 outbreak, the prime minister stressed the need for “a responsible approach to balancing the health imperative and the economic and livelihood imperative”.

“Our job as a government is to ensure that the livelihood of every single citizen is maintained and protected and that people can continue to go about their daily business of life and work,” Skerrit emphasized.

“It is a delicate balancing act and I ask for your support of our efforts to protect health…while finding ways to keep establishments open so that people can work and employees can pay their wages.”

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    He added, “Because when you shut down, the small businesses are the ones who are really dramatically impacted. So, I think we’re finding a balance in this regard.”

    In addition to insisting that Dominicans continue to be able to work as safely as possible, Skerrit also said his government reviews the protocols on a weekly basis to see how best “to allow for the reopening and extended operating hours for businesses”.

    “We are doing what is necessary to prudently manage the state’s resources to keep the economy running, people in jobs and our debts serviced,” he said. “COVID has to be managed and in tandem with that, the business of the state has to continue.”

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