Roseau, Dominica – April 8 , 2009………………At the ground breaking ceremony for a new Agro-Tourism Reception Centre at Bellevue Chopin on Monday, Minister for Tourism, Hon. Ian Douglas, emphasised how the tourism industry in Dominica can be expanded through the development of linkages with the agricultural sector.
“Because we well know and we are familiar with the problems that are being experienced in the agricultural sector right now, particularly with bananas, tourism presents the ideal opportunity for us to give agriculture a new lease on life. I always tell people that we can never run away from the fact that Dominica will always be an agriculturally based economy and here it is that tourism provides the adequate opportunity and the advantage we can take, to use the agricultural product as a marketing tool to expand and develop our tourism industry,” Hon. Ian Douglas stated.
The Minister also praised the Bellevue Chopin Organic Farmers for their work. “I want to commend the Bellevue Chopin farmers for what they are doing here. I think it is a great product that can be developed. You have a product that can create employment by what your farmers will engage in here at this site. It also has spin-off benefits where you can create value added for the products that will be developed……,” Hon. Douglas said.
The construction of the Bellevue Chopin Reception Centre is expected to increase the agro-tourism activities in the area and facilitate the work of the Bellevue Chopin Organic Farmers Group. The Group will be able to display their products and provide local snacks made from organic products to persons visiting the centre. Tours to organic farms in the area will also be dispatched from the centre.
The Bellevue Chopin Reception Centre will be two-storey structure costing in the region of EC$275,000.
Also present at the ground breaking ceremony were Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Mrs. Esther Thomas; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture; Mrs. Claudia Bellot Chairman of the Village Council, Mr. Calvin Mitchell; Secretary of the Bellevue Chopin Organic Farmers Committee, Mr. Delroy Registe; President of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), Mr Jonathan Vidal; Project Engineer, Mr. Alistair Grell as well as residents of the area.
The construction of the Bellevue Chopin Reception Centre is being financed by the European Commission through the Special Framework of Assistance (SFA2006) Tourism Sector Development Programme (TSDP).
The overall objective of the TSDP is to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector through the development of rural tourism and linkages with agriculture; increased destination marketing and building the capacity of major tourism institutions like the Ministry of Tourism and Discover Dominica Authority.