Haiti in self destruction mode

Haiti’s economy is starting to feel the effects of the recent 10 days shutdown. Although things are slowly getting back to normal, economists and tourism experts agree that it will take years before the country gets back what it lost over the last couple of weeks in term of economic advantage and the major damage caused to its tourism industry.

The violence that accompanied the street demonstrations forced the US State Department to classify Haiti as a level 4 risk for traveler alongside waring countries like Afghanistan, Irak and Somalia. A level 4 is a State Department’s recommendation not to travel to that country. That decision prompted several Online Travel Agencies (OTA) to scrap Haiti as a destination. Popular travel sites like expedia and travelocity simply state that they could not find Port-au-Prince.

Major hotels in the capital and on Haiti’s treasure coast are also starting to feel the pinch. Richard Buteau, manager of the Karibe Hotel and Convention Center recently told daily newspaper Le Nouvelliste that they are in dire straight. “For the first time since the opening of the Karibe Convention Center, we only have 4 rooms occupied. With only 4 rooms occupied, I will not be able to support my 250 full-time employees and the 80 part-timers”, says Buteau.

Moulin sur Mer, a popular Hotel – Marina located at Côte des Arcadins north of the capital has decided to shut down some major operations. In a press statement released this Tuesday, the owners say: “Due to difficulties for our employees to come to work and the lack of supply of essential materials and products to serve our customers, Moulin sur Mer is forced to temporarily suspend the activities and services (Hotel – Marina – Restaurant) offered to the general public”.

According to the website www.juno7.com all rooms at Decameron are currently empty. Two travel agencies have canceled their contracts to send customers to the resort. Air Canada has stopped flying to Haiti, and Air Transat will probably follow suit. What will happen? Decameron has close to 446 direct employees and have created at least 5,000 indirect jobs. It’s a disaster !!

According to Carlo Chancelien, a travel and tourism expert at Le Jetsetter, all is not lost. Chancelien sees an opportunity to encourage local tourism. “Now that Haiti is no longer on the world’s tourism map, it may be a great opportunity for Haiti’s Ministry of Tourism and the Haitian Tourism Association to join forces and promote local tourism (staycation).
Most people who live in Haiti know less than 3 out of the country’s 10 departments. Time to leave the Republic of Port-au-Prince, and explore the hidden gems that Haïti has to offer” says Chancelien. “I want to remain optimistic that Haiti will find its way back on the tourism map like we’ve done in the past. But it will take all of us, to help create stability in the country, and make it more appealing to attract tourists” concluded Carlo Chancelien.

At a press conference held this Tuesday, the opposition leaders announced a second round of street demonstrations. One can only hope that they are not as violent as the first round.

Adma Riche / Haiti Telegraph




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