Dominica Rebounding After Hurricane Maria
A year after Hurricane Maria devastated Dominica, the island nation's economy is rebounding.
Hurricane Maria is considered the worst natural disaster on record to affect Dominica, causing $1.37 billion in losses across the island (226 percent of its 2016 GDP). The nation suffered an island-wide communication blackout, over 60 people were killed and much of the housing was left beyond repair. The agricultural sector, a vital source of income for the country, was completely wiped out: all banana and tuber plantations was lost, as well as much of the island's livestock and farm equipment.
Now, cruise tourism is generating significant economic activity. Dominica hosted 33 cruise ships for the 2017-2018 season (out of 219 expected cruise visits prior to Hurricane Maria). Since July 2018, Carnival Fascination began making bi-weekly stops to Dominica and will continue until November 2018. A total of 181 cruise calls – or 304,031 passengers – are projected for the 2018-2019 cruise season.
The top tourism sites and attractions are open to the public, and all major beaches have been cleaned and are open to visitors.
Dominica's airports – Douglas-Charles and Canefield – are fully open for commercial operations with same-day connectivity with international carriers to and from Douglas-Charles. The ferry service operated by L'Express des Iles is also available. A new ferry service, Val Ferry, began operating between Dominica and Guadeloupe in August 2018. Val Ferry runs a weekly schedule with seating capacity of 400.
Electricity has been restored to the national power grid in most areas across the island. Full connectivity to individual homes is ongoing in conjunction with certified home renovations. 97 percent of customers have access to reconnect to the national grid, and 98 percent connectivity has been restored to the national water supply network. Internet service and Wi-Fi hot spots are widely available within town and urban settlements, including the capital city Roseau. Cellular phone service on the island is widely available.
Roadways are open for all vehicles across the island, although road repair work is still ongoing in some areas. Public transportation, taxi services and car rentals are all available on the island.
A majority of Dominica's properties are open, with more than 540 hotel rooms available. Since last fall, many properties using the impact of the hurricane as an opportunity to do renovation. Two hotels will be reopening soon – Secret Bay (November 2018) and Jungle Bay (February 2019) Fort Young Hotel, Dominica's premier hotel, is currently operating with 40 rooms and is undergoing a massive renovation to include 60 additional rooms to be fully operational by October 2019 with a total of 100 new and refurbished rooms.
Two new luxury hotels will soon be available – Cabrits Resort Kempinski Dominica (October 2019) and Anichi Resort, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection (late 2019).
"A growing share of affected residents can say their lives are back on track or almost back to normal after the hurricane," said Colin Piper, Director of Tourism. "The progress made this past year represents a milestone in the recovery process during which the people of Dominica – and the natural environment itself – have shown their resilience and indomitable spirits."