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Tourists wanted

TOURISTS WANTED: A cruise ship is spotted at a private beach on the Labadee peninsula in Haiti on March 28, 2008.

IT'S BEEN two years since the French speaking Caribbean country was ravaged by a massive earthquake which crushed what little infrastructure existed mainly in the capital and displaced a significant portion of the poverty-torn people. Now, a part of the diaspora in the UK is making a bold attempt to urge travel lovers to rediscover the tropical delights of Haiti.

Chief among those encouraging travelers to visit Haiti is a well-known academic who lecturers at Kingston University, Dr Hugues Seraphina.


Dr Seraphina was among a group of campaigners of Haitian-roots who gathered in Camden, north London last week to craft a strategy to help reposition Haiti as a top destination in the Caribbean to complement the expected robust rebuilding programme in the aftermath of the disaster.

The January 2010 earthquake killed more than 300,000 people and left over one million Haitians homeless, mainly in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

An enthusiastic southeast London-based teacher Mario Gousse, who grew up in Haiti, told The Voice: “I hope that tourists return to my country because it is a wonderful destination where the people are as warm as the weather. This is a great opportunity for everyone to get involved in information-sharing and discussion about Haiti’s future.”

BENEFICIARY: Striking image of a Haitian woman

He added: “People never know, they might themselves end up getting involved in Haitian tourism. It is an important time to do business in Haiti and help its population in the process.”

As expected the Camden meeting explored many factors, including the likely benefits that would flow to Haiti by the return of international tourism and the safeguards that would be put in place to ensure this happens. Those present also questioned whether Britain and other countries in Europe would work side-by-side with the Haitian people as fair-trading partners. Important for them too was the will of political leaders to ensure that the proceeds are used to uplift the country and prevent exploitation by the “West”.

Once the playground of Hollywood stars and celebrated authors who flocked to pristine beaches and historical hotels boasting extravagant architecture, during the boom period tourism formed one of Haiti’s key economic pillars and made a significant contribution to the economy.

But as corruption, political upheaval and violence put a stranglehold on the former French colony which was once described as the “Pearl of the Caribbean”, the beaches emptied and hotels fell into disrepair. This gave rise to unflattering media reports which took a toll on Haiti’s image and slowly the tourists disappeared.

For more information, contact Mario Gousse at

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