International Tourism not Good for Government and Culture

Since Haiti's 2010 earthquake, the government has targeted agriculture, export, and tourism as solutions to put Haiti back on its feet. Minister of Tourism Stephanie Villedrouin has been proactive in attracting foreign investment to grow Haiti tourism. But the problem is international tourism, which has not contributed much to local governments' economies. Foreign countries, who invest in new resorts and hotels, earn the lion's share of profits. Local governments receive very little, and the outlays for supporting infrastructure cost them more than they can afford. They need the International Money Fund to help carry the burden of financing international airports, road projects, sanitation systems, power grids, and telecommunication systems where hotels and resorts are being erected. International tourism in Haiti drains local economies more than it adds to them.


Another downside of international tourism is its effect on Caribbean cultural traditions. For example, commercialization has corrupted Carnival, a tradition of Caribbean Christianity, which the majority of Haitians practice. It has been commoditized to pump money into the economy, but not enough to keep local jurisdictions from going under. Foreign cultures are also undermining Caribbean food, art, music, and dress, introducing their traditions, and destroying what is unique to Caribbean culture.

Haiti, in particular, is vulnerable to these foreign incursions into its culture. Overwhelmingly a poverty-stricken nation, its government, infrastructure and public institutions are very underdeveloped. While billions of dollars have been sent to Haiti, reconstruction progresses at a snail's pace with mis-spending, corruption, and bureaucratic holdups obstructing appropriation and application.

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