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Dominica’s New Entertainment landscape
by Gordon Henderson
For a long time, Dominica has been a mono-crop economy with emphasis on bananas. Some have argued that, given Dominica’s topography, size, and outdated agricultural methods, the country cannot be competitive on the world market.
Irrespective of the position taken on this debate, there is general consensus that diversification is a must. Consequently tourism is now an accepted addition to agriculture.
If we agree that basically tourism is the business of travel, accommodation, and entertainment, we will also agree that entertainment is the only sub-sector of tourism that Dominica can excel in on the world market.
Dominica’s World Creole Music Festival, a single weekend annual event after the fifth edition in 2001, is an excellent demonstration of the power of entertainment not only as a vector of economic activity but as a promotional tool, a bridge that consolidates Creole culture, and a pivot to the establishment of a World Creole Market.
If tourism is to succeed in Dominica, Dominicans at home and abroad need to give all necessary attention to the importance of entertainment within the tourism product. This entertainment goes beyond daytime recreation consisting of sightseeing. It must be marketed from a broad based cultural perspective involving every aspect of our traditional and dynamic contemporary culture. There is no other single word to better define this culture/product than “Creole”.
It must be understood that, Creole as a culture, goes beyond language, but also involves art, cuisine, fashion, and other activities that define Dominicans as part of a larger community.
Since we are distinctively Creole, our approach to tourism must therefore make a paradigm shift away from the conventional “sea, sun, and sex” white sand cliché, to one of cultural industry under the label of Creole.
The corner stones of Dominica’s prominence in the rapidly growing Creole niche market were placed back in the seventies when Dominican music topped the market with “Cadence-Lypso” products. This strong base gave Dominica the credibility to establish the World Creole Music Festival.
It is now long overdue for Dominica to adopt a National Policy on Entertainment. Entertainers and other stakeholders in the industry must be recognised as important players in the development process.
The absence of a national framework created to involve the public sector, the private sector, and the Dominicans Diaspora, will create a void that will allow other “richer” countries of the Creole market to exploit the visions and results of those Dominicans who know that entertainment is one of Dominica’s greatest assets since the raw material resides in our creativity.