Traditional Music, Eco-tourism and Employment
Dominica's National Park was declared a World Heritage Site in August 1997 making it one of the few acclaimed Heritage sites in the English speaking Caribbean. Within this park, and all around the country there are several which tourist, (particularly cruise tourist) visit daily. Some of the most popular Heritage sites are: Fresh Water and Boeri lakes; The Sulphur Springs; Emerald Pool; Trafalgar Falls; Cabrits; Trafalgar Falls; Indian River; and Karifuna Barana Aute (Carib Territory)
All of the above do have potential for creating linkages with music and culture as was successfully done in the Irish cities of Cork, Dublin and Galway. Providing there is the necessary infrastructure at the above sites, we can improve visitor frequency and enhance their overall experience. The combined efforts of music as a catalyst in heritage tourism has been done in a number of countries such as sister island St Lucia where Jazz music is used at Pigeon Point to attract visitors.
While gathering empirical data in 2008 on the heritage sites in Dominica, I found out, for instance, that a weekly average of approximately 150 visits were recorded in the case of the Fresh Water Lake to well over 3,500 at the Trafalgar falls.
No entertainment is provided in any organized way at the Cabrits, Kalinago Village or the Trafalgar Falls; all have reasonable reception facilities. A small fee of EC$8 was charged at that time and in some cases, such as the Botanic Gardens, no fees are taken to visit these sites.
While surveys reveal that tourists visit mainly for the aesthetic appeal of the locations, these offerings can be further augmented with the authentic and traditional Dominican rhythm.
The potential economic spin offs are obvious and the employment which could be created for scores of musician in the villages make such linkages with our heritage sites invaluable. Due to the importance that most visitors place on music entertainment this could increase loyalty when experiences are enhanced in this niche.
Average Frequency of National Heritage Sites Visits and Fees Paid in Dominica by Cruise Visitors per Visit (Jan 1st 2008 – 1st July 2008)
(Source: Dominica National Parks Division)
National Heritage Sites Yearly Visits Avg. Monthly Visits Fees per site Visit (EC) Estimated Monthly Income Fresh water Lake & Boeri Lake 7,356 613 $8.00 4,904 Sulphur Springs 3,700 308 $8.00 2,464 Emerald Pool 93,617 7,804 $8.00 62,432 Trafalgar Falls 169,235 14,102 $8.00 112,816 Cabrits 11,112 926 $8.00 7,408 Indian River 14,536 1,211 $8.00 9,688 Carifuna Barana Aute (Carib Territory) 9,600 800 $27.00 21,600 Total 294,620 25,764 221,312
These figures clearly illustrate that there are opportunities to augment the tourism product by utilizing our heritage sites while at the same time creating employment for hundreds of youth who are very interested in traditional music entertainment. Of the seven major heritage sites surveyed only the Emerald Pool was served (by La Sel Difference) with a traditional group five days a week during the peak tourist of April-October.
Weekly, approximately 5 cruise ships arrived during the tourist season and information from the National Parks suggest that some 6000 persons visited the heritage sites. Therefore, all things being equal and an efficient collection system should realise in the region of well over $2.66 million annually or $221,312 monthly, from cruise ship visits alone. The question is: what stake do musicians have in such an economic activity?' This we will seek to explore in next week's issue.