Back in the 40s and 50s, Haiti was one of the most popular vacation destinations in the Caribbean. Cruise ships would dock in the harbor and shop, eat, and relax on Haiti’s beautiful waterfront. At night, there were clubs and Voodoo shows popular with visitors. But as soon as Papa Doc’s authoritarian rule began in 1951, tourists stopped coming to Haiti. When his son took power in 1970s, people began frequenting the coasts of Haiti again. Hillary and Bill Clinton even spent their honeymoon in Haiti. But when Baby Doc’s government fell in 1986, the tourists stopped flocking again. Tourism purely for the sake of vacationing has all but stopped since the 2010 earthquake.
Paul Clammer, a travel writer for the Huffinton Post wrote after his first visit to Haiti, “Anywhere else in world this place would be packed with tourists. Anywhere else, this sort of beauty would be earning much-needed revenue for the local population and government alike.” Though Haiti has much to do to make the country a tourist hotspot, it certainly has the potential to be a popular one. The country is rich with culture, beautiful beaches, and historic monuments. In Cap-Haiten, the biggest fortress in the America looks over the rolling Haitian landscape. In the north of the country is Môle Saint Nicolas, which was one of Christopher Columbus’ stops on his first voyage to America in 1492 and it is scattered with old colonial forts. There is a lush countryside perfect for hiking and other outdoor activities.
Citadelle in Cap-Hatien
The Ministry of Tourism has begun to make the changes it needs to in order to attract tourism. One of the most important steps it has taken is to develop packages with airlines and travel companies, who will help with the funding. In the beginning of 2013, the Ministry of Tourism launched packages with a Canadian tourism country called Transat.
Then, this past Friday, Haiti’s Ministry of Tourism launched talks with Delta airlines about creating vacation packages to Haiti. These flights would be from Atlanta and New York, and there might be a package with Air France, which already has flights to Haiti, in the works as well.
Who knows? If the Ministry of Tourism keeps this up, Haiti might be trading in its title as “poorest country in the Western hemisphere” for “most popular spring break destination.”
Sources for this article:
Caribbean Journal: Interview with Minister of Tourism
Huffington Post: Haiti Caribbean Destination?