ROSEAU, Dominica (CBN4) -- The challenge of marketing Dominica as a tourist destination is growing increasingly difficult says tourism minister, Senator Robert Tonge.
Speaking on local radio this week, Tonge did not mince words when he condemned the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) for casting Dominica in such a negative light that discourages visitors from coming to the island.
“You can well imagine even just during the Carnival the government increased the budget to make Carnival a bigger and better Carnival and it has been a success. Some persons have said this is one of the best Carnivals they have seen,” he said.
“We know that there will always be certain shortcomings and we will work to fixing them but just imagine even Dominicans, even some Dominicans because of all the negativity that they heard, that there is rioting in the streets every day and looting, even Dominicans didn’t come to Dominica. They were scared. Or some persons whose parents wanted to come, their children said to them, ‘Hey, you know something, do not come to Dominica because what we’re hearing is just so negative we are not gonna send you to Dominica’.”
Tonge commented that no evidence is ever presented to support the claims made by the opposition, which is to the detriment of the tourism industry.
“Just imagine if a Dominican is not going to come to Dominica, imagine what a visitor is going to do. So all of this work that we’re doing, all of this awareness that we’re trying to do to differentiate between Dominica and the other countries, all the work that we’re doing to ensure that persons who are coming to Dominica are the ones who are aligned with our nature and everything else, all of this is being negatively impacted. And for what reason?” he asked. “Is it the truth? No, it is not the truth. It is alternate facts.”
According to Tonge, the government is being accused of being involved in money laundering, although a recent report refuted that claim.
Tonge stressed that the negative impact will not just affect the government or its supporters but all Dominicans.
“It is making our job very difficult. It means that even the increased funds that we have gotten from the government to increase in our marketing budget, it means that we have to do so much more,” Tonge said. “Who’s going to suffer? All of us are going to suffer. The taxi driver, the vendor, everybody is going to suffer because you have less people coming to Dominica when we should have more persons coming to Dominica, so we have to be very careful as to what image that we send out there, not only to the local market but the International market,” he admonished.
Tonge challenged those making accusations to bring facts.