While President Donald Trump's reported
comment behind closed doors about why the U.S. wants immigrants from "sh*thole countries"
such as Haiti, El Salvador and nations in Africa has caused a huge media storm, tour operators report that there has been increased interest
in these destinations and say there's great growth potential.
Intrepid Travel said it recently began offering an El
Salvador trip, due in part to North American demand.
"And, we have seen a significant rise in U.S. travel to
East Africa, with bookings up 71% overall in the last year, and an impressive
262% increase specifically in travel to Ethiopia," said Leigh Barnes,
Intrepid Travel's director of North America.
Barnes added that in North Africa, bookings are up 87% in
Morocco, and Egypt bookings have more than doubled in the last year.
On Tuesday, G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip issued a
long statement in response to President Trump's remarks entitled "The
Haiti I Know and Admire, How Tourism Can Challenge and Change Misperceptions."
"I have been disheartened by recent rhetoric that has
degraded and dehumanized people from countries who are not seen as equal to
people coming from Norway. I came to the conclusion that being born in the
Caribbean not far from Haiti, I too could be considered as coming from a 'sh*thole'
nation," wrote Poon Tip, who was born in Trinidad.
He detailed how the company came to offer small-group
adventure tours in Haiti in 2015 following a personal visit to the island in
2010 after the devastating earthquake there. In 2013, G Adventures' nonprofit
organization, Planeterra, was contracted by the Inter-American Development Bank
to consult on accessing Haiti's tourism potential, Poon Tip explained.
"What my team found when they got to Haiti was a
vibrant country bursting with art and culture, friendly and welcoming locals and
a wealth of natural wonders like cave systems, waterfalls and swimming holes,"
"Tourism is one of the main ways we can redistribute
wealth to countries that need it, and one of the main ways we help change the
perception of a place. Yes, Haiti is still rebuilding, but it's a beautiful
country with a lot to offer, and I'm proud our travelers are helping make a
difference to the lives of the people who live there and have had to endure so
much," he said.
In support of Haiti tourism, G Adventures said it has
reduced the price of its February tours by 20%.