Philanthropic groups launch Haiti tourism initiative

By Gay Nagle Myers
Tourism Cares and the Clinton Foundation launched an initiative with the Haitian Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Association of Haiti to boost tourism in northern Haiti.

The Northern Haiti Tourism Coalition project, initially funded with $10,000 grants from each organization, first plans to focus on expanding tourism to Haiti's Unesco World Heritage Site, the National History Park of Citadelle/the palace of Sans Souci/the buildings of Ramiers.

The park is the largest fortress in the Western Hemisphere. The monuments were built when Haiti gained independence from France at the beginning of the 19th century.

The Clinton Foundation will work to attract new investments and tour operators to support the project. The ministry of tourism will support the coalition's initiative through public facilitation and logistical support.

Tourism Cares will assess the needs of the region to provide positive experiences for visitors to the Citadelle, and the Tourism Association of Haiti plans to host tourism professionals to provide feedback on international visitors.

"Haiti has had a long tradition of hosting vacationers who have enjoyed its culture, history, arts and crafts, cuisine and beauty. The members of this coalition believe that a renaissance is taking place in Haiti. Its people and places can and will revive that tradition," said Bruce Beckham, executive director of Tourism Cares. "The potential is there. We just have to help cultivate it."

Using lessons learned from the Dominican Republic and other Caribbean nations, as well as global tourism experience and planning at other World Heritage sites, the coalition will use its resources to create a sustainable tourism model to benefit the local communities in the north.

A new road, currently under construction, will offer access from the cruise port of Labadee on the north coast to the Citadelle.

Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.
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