To attract tourists, Haiti needs to think outside the box

(by Carlo Chancelien)

As an immediate consequence of the Level-4 travel alert on Haiti by the United States State Department and Canada’s Global Affairs advisory not to travel to Haiti, hotels in Haiti are currently facing the reality: No guests, no revenue hence no business. That shows how much our small tourism industry depends on the United States and Canada.

I think we should diversify our source markets. There are so many other countries in the world where tourists don’t rely on US or Canada’s advisories to make their traveling plans.

In this time of crisis, Hotel owners need to be very creative and think outside the box in order to find other means of generating revenue per available room, other than the usual international guests.

The sad fact is, by the time the United States and Canada lower their travel alert on Haiti, a lot of hotels may have already gone out of business. Some have already started laying off employees, and you can literally feel that they can’t keep up with their operating.

I suggest that they start running some promotions to attract local guests even at very low rates. Small revenue is way better than no revenue at all.


Hotel rooms are like perishable inventory. A night with an empty room is a loss of revenue. On the other hand, I think the tourism authorities (Ministry of Tourism and Tourism Operators) should start by attracting tourists from other countries like China, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia etc… Places where their decisions are not based on U.S and Canada travel advisories.

Also, we could market Haiti to Afro-descent tourists as a historical and cultural destination. Every black person should visit Haiti, for obvious reasons.

All is not lost. We just need to be creative when it comes to marketing Haiti as a tourist destination.

Carlo Chancelien is a business and tourism consultant based in Santo Domingo. He is CEO of the tourism firm the Jetsetter Visit their FaceBook page at




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