Dominica’s strength and survival are exemplary to any nation that’s faced with adversity. After tropical storm Erika entered its coasts in 2015, many homes were left unhabitable and thousands were displaced. Many left the island in search of stability elsewhere. In a 5-part documentary series, the Financial Times PWM tells the story of Dominica’s resilience through the help of the Government’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme. With the help of CBI, the island is seeing a wave of people return to climate-resilience nation that is working to raise its economy primarily through its own efforts.
Road to Recovery
Dominica is home to some of nature’s most breath-taking landscapes. The island comprises of beaches, rivers, rainforests and fertile soil that’s able to grow tropical fruits like coconuts, bananas and plantains. With such richness come tropical storms and hurricanes. Dominica faced tropical storm Erika in 2015 which not only impacted the physical infrastructure of the island but left an emotional trauma on its citizens. In an interview, the Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, spoke to FTs PWM about the resilience of the people of Dominica: “Whether you’re an 85-year-old man or a 12-year-old schoolgirl, they speak of resilience. Resilience has become the household word in Dominica.” The Prime Minister’s comments explained that investing in building resilient homes and bridges after Erika stood the tests of Hurricane Maria that came shortly after.
Projects like the geothermal energy plant are also putting Dominica ahead of the rest to combat climate change, reduce energy costs in the private and public sectors, and relieve the country of its reliance on imported fossil fuels. Dominicans are holding a “crusade against carbon emissions,” the Prime Minister said.
Read more: The Quest for Renewable Energy in Dominica
Spotlight on CBI
According to Emmanuel Nanthan, the Coordinator of the CBI Programme in Dominica, foreign investment in real estate in the Commonwealth island began in 2014. Since then, CBI has helped the country with the following projects amongst others:
- Financing public housing and infrastructure to withstand the effects of hurricanes and other natural disasters;
- Rebuilding and modernising cities like Roseau;
- Injecting funds in the tourism sector to create jobs in fields of construction; allowing six 5-star hotels to be developed;
- Aiding in costs of medical treatment of people who need to be flown overseas;
- Having at least one university graduate per family;
- Selecting a site for an international airport soon to come.
Mr Nanthan said that the splitting factor for Dominica’s CBI Programme is that it treats their investors like VIPs, listens to their concerns, and tries to fashion its Programme to ensure that they meet the need of the market without compromising on quality. He called Dominica’s relationship with its investors one of “mutual understanding”.
“CBI has been able to keep many people alive in Dominica because the government has been able to step in as people were suffering,” said the Director of GIS Dominica, Daryl Titre.
The building of real-estate projects also happens quickly. “Within one year, construction from the investment happens,” Titre added.
The Importance of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)
Dominica is on its way to become the world’s first climate-resilient nation, as pledged by PM Skerrit. By investing directly into projects of renewable energy, it is not only a champion in environmentalism, but it is also making sure the investments are growing the local economy by creating jobs for Dominicans.
Dominica, with the help of the CBI Programme, has honed the art of ecotourism. Visitors can bond with the island’s lush rainforests and pristine rivers. They are also offered a chance to indulge in locally produced jams, coffee and tropical fruits. Whale watching, spas and hot water springs are only some of the relaxing ventures curated for visitors. Boats are also able to take Pirates of the Caribbean fans to the set of the Hollywood blockbuster. “When persons come to Dominica, they have a unique experience like nowhere else,” said the Minister of Tourism and Culture, Robert Tonge. He also emphasised that foreign developers are to respect the nature of the island.
Another excursion Mr Tonge mentioned in the segment was the chance to get to meet and learn from the natives of the island. A model village allows an opportunity for visitors to understand how the Kalinago people live, make canoes, fish with bow and arrows, and paint their faces. “We embrace them because they are a part of us and we’re a part of them and we provide them with support as much as we can,” said Mr Tonge, referring to the project that helped rebuild the homes of the Kalinago people after Erika.
Building the Perfect Retreat
For Dominica, “it’s not about the number of tourists here, it’s about the spend per family,” noted the FT PWM’s Editor-in-Chief Yuri Bender. Along with tourists, Dominica has warmly welcomed some of the world’s most high-ranking hotel chains like Kempinski, Hilton and Marriot which are carving a niche in eco-friendly resorts.
Developers weighed in about their properties and spoke of the structures built to withhold any natural disaster. Jungle Bay owner Samuel Raphael explained that the rebuilding of his hotel after Erika was “more ridged but we try and soften it as much as possible.”
“[CBI] is the best way to raise capital […] all the hotels are benefiting from it. All the island will benefit from it,” said Dominican Ian. A. W. Edwards, the Chief Executive Officer of the Hilton Hotel’s Tranquility Beach Resort. “CBI is not only crucial to this investment, it’s the only way we could have gotten the funds that we needed to get this done,” he said.BACK TO NEWS FEED