Tourism Still One Of The Main Sources Of Revenue For Haiti
Like many other countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region, 'tourism' is one of the main economic drivers in Haiti. Haiti's former minister of tourism Stéphanie Villedrouin worked tirelessly to improve this sector during her tenure. She was regarded as one of the most visible figures of Haiti's different Ministries who never remained contented with the accomplishment of tourism objectives, but worked to create infrastructure that will ease tourism in Haiti in decades to come. Because, she believed that visitors to Haiti can provide much-needed funds to boost infrastructure and create jobs to help trigger redevelopment.
In the 1950's, Haiti was one of the popular tourist destinations among the jet-setters and wealthy travelers from the US and Europe. Haiti was branded as "the pearl of the Antilles". However, since then the situation deteriorated because of political unrest. The recent governments have felt the necessity of branding Haiti as a holiday destination and have elevated tourism to the top of its development agenda. In 2013, Brazil-based Igarape Institute was employed to assess the extent to which Haiti is safe for tourism and how the tourism professionals are efficient in their roles.
As per 2013 BBC reports, Haiti used to earn around $200 million (£130 million) a year from tourism, mostly from the cruise ships that come to the north of the island. During the first part of 2013, a major part of the tourists were Haitian diaspora and foreign aid workers-- very few visited the country for leisure or recreational purposes.
As per World Bank data, in 1995, the country earned $90 million from international tourism while the figure for 2014 was $578 million. The figures for Dominica Republic for the same periods were $1,571 million and $5,637 million. Haiti is a great hospitable place where tourists can enjoy life, even when things are difficult. In 2012, Haiti received 950,000 tourists (mainly from cruise ships) compared with 4.5 million in the Dominican Republic. Haiti has nice beaches, great heritage sites, unique arts and rich cultural legacy. Haitian cuisine is a mixture of French, African, Spanish and indigenous cooking methods. Voodoo tourism has a great market potential in Haiti.
Tourism is often described as key to Haiti's salvation. The government hopes that an influx of foreign currency generated by tourists could help lift the country out of aid-dependency.
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