Observing these three main hotels being rapidly constructed in the Town of Portsmouth, Dominica, makes me wonder; are we as a community and by extension as a nation truly ready for them? Mind you, these are not the only hotels being constructed in the island; thus, the pressure on our population to cater to their demands is expected to increase rapidly.
It is clear that if we do not act now, we will be caught unprepared, and will suffer a huge deficit in our productivity and ability to take full advantage of the opportunities that such developmental infrastructures have the potential to present.
Looking around the town, I see some level of preparation, though in my view these are quite slim. For example, the bit of work done to open the Indian River entrance thereby making it more sightly, the cleaning of the beach front just adjacent of that area, the setting up of drainage system toward the Cabrits Resorts and Spa Kempinsky, and maybe even the new housing project toward Cotton Hill area which just may assist with moving those not-too-good-looking buildings from the beach front along Lagoon. These are my assumptions of course, so I am subject to correction.
As relates to us as locals being able to fully capitalize on these hotels in our town, I wonder about that. For example, the volume of agricultural products including fresh vegetables, fresh well packaged and presented fish all properly filleted, well packaged fresh meat, other fringe services like entertainment for guests, night-events, water sporting opportunities, classy live bands and or performances within the town, and other such activities are amiss or if they exist are neither quite fully organized nor professionally branded for that scale or expected quality.
Are we actually getting ready for the demands of the 5 Star level hotels? Or, is it that we are not expected to be; because most of the necessities can be sought from outside? Worst yet, the hotels will probably be self-sufficient?
I am strongly convinced that, if we do not prepare ourselves and our people, we will be on the losing end. The point is that, we are expected to be the first ones to benefit, but there is a process to everything. Our small farmers, micro and small enterprises, cultural organizations, artists of all sorts and our people in general need to become ready for these.
The announcement of vacancies are great, and I hope us locals can fill in most if not all of these vacant posts. Still, there should be more that we as a people can do to be 5-Star ready. We have a long way to go if you ask me. I mean, really it feels as if we are no where ready for this.
- We need to clean our community. Our gutters, drains and home environments need a serious facelift.
- Our mindsets need an over haul. A change in attitude toward our local environment, business, foreigners and locals themselves.
- The need to develop a warmer and professional customer service culture not just among entrepreneurs and proprietors and their staff, but even among our students within schools, and the lay man on the street.
- We need to develop these for and toward ourselves first, and then we can look toward foreigners. Too often we cater toward the stranger, forgetting that the daily patrons, customers and clients are our fellow locals. If we culture ourselves to relate better to each other, then relating to the foreigner appropriately will just be second nature.
- Trainings in fish filleting, packaging, presentation, and means to break the cycle of seasonal cropping are imperative. As a matter of fact, we can extend that to the need for more industrialized approach toward food preservation, and agroprocessing.
- The cleaning and maintenance of our beaches for us first and then them. Taking pride in making our beaches fun-spots, but also safe spots.
- The need to beef up police patrols in the town, and addressing misdemeanors in their buds before they get out of hand to embarrass us later.
- The urgency of addressing the street or road situation in the town cannot be ignored. Who is going to deal with this matter and how soon? How do we get Bay Street to be a main street with some level of order as far as parking is concerned? Well then, that means parking in the town on business days at certain hours must be addressed immediately.
- The fragility of the town as pertains to heavy downpours. The susceptibility toward flooding, and the need to truly unblock those storm drains are key factors. I am no engineer, but to me these are things that must be seen as priority matters. The worst thing would be to have such influx of high level visitors to whom five star hotels cater walking our town on a rainy day on dangerously flooded streets.
- More organized souvenir shops. Kudos to Dee’s for having a small one set up along Bay Street, but we need a sort of village that will attract these tourists to patronize and acquire locally crafted memorabilia from their visits.
- Selling our artistry by showcasing aspects of our culture to the visitors, earning spots in the entertainment slots of those hotels.
- The upkeep and upgrading of our local museum, and establishment of other such facilities which can showcase the history of our town and nation.
- Being Disaster ready since we are so vulnerable to Tsunami, Volcanic Activity, Earthquakes, Hurricanes and other such events. We need those road signs, an early warning system which is well organized, rehearsed and upgraded as required.
- I bet there are more recommendations you can think of. Your thoughts are welcome here.
Personally, I do not have all the answers, but I believe the dialogue is necessary, and more so the action toward achieving a more ready community to embrace the opportunities that are possibly going to be available to us as a people.
I commend the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development for the work being done having begun the dialogue, planning and awareness of key stake holders toward that quest. As per the implementations of recommendations being made, and the plans being drawn, I do not quite know if, how, when these will be done. In that vein, I await as a citizen and resident, but truly anticipate urgent action to ready ourselves for a 5-Star Environment.
Regardless of who leads the movement, and when these will be happening, our town will need all hands and heads on deck to make this work. We have what it takes I firmly believe. What I struggle with is how they will truly happen. May the powers that be do the necessary to facilitate the readiness of our constituencies to harness the opportunities. The fact is, ready or not these expectations are going to be knocking on our doors.
With the number of learned people in the Town of Portsmouth, I am certain many will have some recommendations as well. So, how can we be 5-Star ready? And what does it all mean? Your views are vital to the quest! Are you 5 Star ready? Do we even know what it all means to be a 5-Star Ready Community?
All photos complements Google Images. Aerial view of Portsmouth (at the top) from Dominica News Online as featured, but taken by Chad Ambo of Ambo Visuals displayed as Photo of the Day (September 29th, 2016.)