I am writing on behalf of the Nature Island Environmental Trust in order to bring public attention to the status of the Waitukubuli National Trail (WNT). As had been anticipated when the feasibility for a national trail was studied in 2002, the WNT is becoming more and more important to the development of Dominica's tourism sector as well as offering Dominicans the opportunity to learn more about the natural bounty of their country and to benefit from outdoor activity.

One example of the role the WNT can play is the The One Run 2014, a trail race that was held in Dominica from the 7th of April through the 11th. The participants in the race covered Segments One through Fourteen of the Waitukubuli National Trail over the course of five days. The race was coordinated by The One Run, a US-based organization and the Nature Island Environmental Trust (NIET), a Dominican non-profit company. While this first effort included a small group of participants, the US-based organization that initiated the race is prepared to devote resources to making the race a regular event and to expand it to include several options to appeal to runners at different levels.

Discover Dominica Authority has also used the WNT for its annual Nature Island Challenge, an effort that receives international media coverage. In order for events like this to grow and attract more visitors, it is imperative that the Trail be given adequate resources to ensure that it is properly managed and maintained. Currently, the Trail cannot depend on a regular budget allocation, and the Management Unit struggles to make ends meet. While the Trail may someday become self-sufficient, it needs Government support in the meantime so that visitors have a positive experience. A poorly maintained trail not only turns people off, it presents safety hazards and potential liability issues in case of serious injury.

The Nature Island Environmental Trust will continue to do its part in promoting the WNT both in Dominica and abroad by organising events and supporting the Friends of the Trail as well as the Management Unit. We urge the Government of Dominica to ensure that the Trail gets the support it needs so that it can reach its full potential in anchoring Dominica's tourism sector.

Betty Perry-Fingal