Saint Lucia’s Bamboo Rafting Company has found a unique use for bamboo rafts that traditionally carried bananas along the Roseau River.

Saint Lucia: Bamboo rafting brings tourism to impoverished communities

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Saint Lucia’s Bamboo Rafting Company has found a unique use for bamboo rafts that traditionally carried bananas along the Roseau River. The Roseau valley has been known for the Saint Lucia’s largest banana plantations.

In earlier times the bamboo rafts that are famous in the region were used to carry bananas as cargo along the river, from the plantations. Today though, these very bamboo rafts are being used to ferry tourists and local enthusiasts along the Roseau River.

Former tourism minister and member of parliament for the area, Dominic Fedee runs the Saint Lucia Bamboo Rafting Company and has big plans for the future of Roseau. With this first of a kind initiative in the area, Fedee plans on developing Roseau and the communities that surround it.

To Dominic Fedee, it is an important endeavor which he is extremely passionate about. In a recent interview he was heard saying, “I used to be the Member of Parliament for the area and I brought many private investors to have a look at the facility to create jobs, I was fired up about creating opportunities but I couldn’t get anyone to invest. When we lost the election, I thought that now I am in private life I have a lot of time and it wouldn’t be a bad thing to occupy my time for this.”

He also spoke about how inspired he was to create jobs for Roseau. He believes that even though there are government programs aimed at tackling poverty, they act has handouts. Fedee wishes to empower his people by teaching them discipline and perseverance, something he believes only jobs can achieve.

Since the collapse of the banana industry in the 90’s, triggered when the World Trade Organization deemed UK’s preferential tariffs for Caribbean bananas to be illegal, the area has seen a steady economic decline.

“There has been a tremendous dislocation in rural communities. We saw a dramatic fallout since preferential treatment ended for the islands and we weren’t able to compete with bananas. As we transitioned into tourism, Roseau, Canaries and Anse La Raye were left behind. The young people have no opportunities,” said Fedee.

Fedee has now started hiring employees for his tours and stated that the area had a lot to offer to tourists who usually enjoyed visiting the old plantation house and the famous pitons in Soufriere. Dominic Fedee also plans on adding a culinary program, aimed at popularizing the cuisine and spices in the region.

He also believes that such a program would help revitalize the agricultural industry in Roseau. He wishes to beautify the beaches in the area, which he believes would allow locals to establish small businesses that could thrive under the right conditions.

Saint Lucia tourism is also making attempts to push the adventure, romance and nature niches in their country which is likely to help Fedee in his efforts. He is also looking at the approaching cruise season to expand into massages on the water front, wellness and weddings.

With such concerted efforts being put in, it seems like the Roseau Valley is once again on its way to becoming of great economic importance to the region. Although this time, it will be known not just for its bananas but as destination for tourists, honeymooners and adventure enthusiasts as well. This by all means, would be an excellent development for the youth of the area, who are admittedly in dire need of jobs. With these attempts, Dominic Fedee and his Saint Lucia Bamboo Rafting Company look to bring their community one step close to a brighter and more prosperous future.