Above: Haiti’s National History Park
By the Caribbean Journal staff
The World Bank’s Board of Directors has approved a $45 million grant to develop tourism in Haiti.
The grant from the International Development Association aims to improve access, conservation and management at the World Heritage Site of Haiti’s National History Park and the historic centre of the city of Cap-Haitien.
The money will also go toward “establishing new destinations for travelers,” according to the institution.
“Developing the North as a tourism destination in a sustainable way is part of the vision of the Ministry of Tourism,” said Haiti Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin. “Improving the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to achieve this objective. I would like to highlight that one of the strengths of the project is that it involves the communities to preserve their heritage and benefit from the economic returns of tourism.”
Haiti has been making a renewed push to develop the country’s tourism sector in the last several years, with much hinging on improving the infrastructure surrounding the National History Park.
Last year, the park attracted more than 30,000 visitors; the World Bank said the nearby Labadee port area “represents a real potential for further tourism development in the region.”
“There is a growing demand to develop tourism in Haiti and the government is working effectively to promote the destination,” said Mary Barton-Dock, the World Bank’s Special Envoy to Haiti. “This is the opportunity to develop the tourism industry which is labor intensive and will attract the private sector.”
Ultimately, the project seeks to attract more than 16,000 new visitors in the National History Park and to create the creation of “370 small and medium entities providing cultural services and tourism.”
The project is slated to take place over a six-year period, with help from UNESCO, which will provide technical assistance.
Haiti has also been redeveloping the airport in Cap-Haitien, which, the government announced last year, will be renamed for late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.