Hervé Nizard: It was a real country
By Andrea Louis
Dominica is a land of uniquely mesmerizing attributes that gently whisper to visitors and, slowly but surely, entice them to relocate and call the island home.
Hervé Nizard, the current French Consul to Dominica, spent 15 years in Guadeloupe and visited Dominica primarily for work reasons.
"I was a pilot and had a small air charter company," he said. "We brought tourists for day tours for nearly ten years."
These regular tours to Dominica ran from 1995 to 2005. One fateful day, Nizard genuinely connected with the wonders of Dominica.
"My real first time to Dominica, the weather was bad and worsened," he said. "I didn't want to fly back, so we spent the night at Papillote. It was incredible because I lived on the dry east side of Guadeloupe, in Saint-François, and that night was pouring rain. It was something I really enjoyed and was a strong first impression."
Hervé moved to Dominica in 2007 and shared that it was also on the advice of a dear friend.
"One of our customers bought a plane, and I was his pilot for ten years, bringing him to and from Dominica. He is the one who attracted me to settle here," Hervé said. "He is also a partner in Sustainable Earth."
During his time here, certain traits of Dominica and her people resonated deeply with Hervé.
"I like the fact that Dominica is a real country. With forty-five years of independence, the people have embarked on building a nation, and you feel it daily," he said. "I enjoyed that impression of being part of this nation-building."
As a result, the French Consul has made it his mission to improve the image of Dominicans in the neighbouring French island.
"One thing that has been my fight for the past 17 years is the image of Dominica in Guadeloupe," he said. "A lot of the bad guys from Dominica are in Guadeloupe, and many people there don't have a positive impression of Dominica. That is what I am trying to change."
Nizard also pointed to changes he has noticed in the country from the 1990s to the present day.
"Firstly, people's behaviour on the road has changed since the roads have been improved. The road has become far more dangerous, and there are more accidents," Hervé stated. "Also, we like the word 'resilience'. When you have experienced Erika and Maria in LaPlaine, by a river, you know what 'resilience' means. What I love in Dominica is the resilience. I value the capacity of people to get back on their feet and start again."
Hervé's interest in the hospitality sector has led him to establish a property to cater to a particular type of tourist.
"I came to Dominica to live my life and invested in Citrus Creek Plantation, in LaPlaine, where we created an eco-lodge for people who want the off-the-beaten-path experience," he said.
Hervé, the Discover Dominica Authority's representative to the French West Indies for four years following Hurricane Maria, firmly believes more should be done to appeal to the average visitor.
"I sincerely think we, as a nation, made a small error in that we are targeting luxury tourism and I have no objection to that. But, for the past 30 years there has been a typical traveler to Dominica who is nature oriented, not interested in high end accommodation. I have no problem targeting a new market, but we should still be trying to attract the core tourist," he said.
Content with his choice to make Dominica home, Nizard, Managing Director of the solar company Sustainable Earth, is excited to play his role in the island's journey to resilience and sustainability.
"We have done nearly 200 solar systems here and believe in bringing top-quality solar systems to Dominica at factory prices," he said." A nation like Dominica needs renewable energy, and we are eager to see what will happen with geothermal.