DHTA president Gregor Nassief
DHTA president Gregor Nassief

ROSEAU, Dominica, July 27, 2016 – DHTA welcomes measures to boost the tourism economy. The Dominica Hotel & Tourism Association (DHTA) commends the Government on the Tourism-related items announced in the 2016/17 Budget Address, which identify tourism as a main growth sector and endorse several DHTA-recommended initiatives to enable Dominica's tourism economy to reach its full potential.

First, a $15 million Eastern Caribbean dollar low-interest facility to target the upgrade or expansion of existing hotels, with a 3% interest rate and 1 year grace period on interest and principal. The facility is expected to enable existing hotels to modernise rooms and guest facilities in order to remain competitive and attract higher yields.

In conjunction with the low-interest facility, the Government approved critical adjustments to the fiscal incentives regime to support reinvestment in the upgrade or expansion of existing hotels, thereby enhancing investor outlook and securing continued viability of longstanding investments in the tourism industry.

Further, the increase in the destination marketing budget to $8.5 million Eastern Caribbean dollars, inline with recommendations in the Tourism Master Plan, will allow the destination to more effectively work towards increasing visitor arrivals.

"These measures, in our view, demonstrate the Government's commitment to tourism as a key driver of the country's economic development," remarks DHTA President, Gregor Nassief, "as well as the on-going need for extensive public-private sector engagement and partnership in moving the country forward."

DHTA also notes the adjustment of the VAT registration threshold, which will directly benefit tourism small businesses, the in-progress rehabilitation of the Roseau Valley road and bridge network, thereby securing access to tourism sites, and the Government's commitment to engaging stakeholders regarding the phasing out of Styrofoam and plastics, in-keeping with Dominica's brand positioning as the Nature Island.

DHTA applauds the commitment and support extended to Agriculture. Agriculture and Tourism are innately linked; and both productive sectors stand to benefit from growth in global travel for food-based experiences that spotlight fresh produce, authentic preparation and a farm-to-table and sea-to-plate connection.