New Haitian Tourism Minister Challenged to Reignite Visitor Growth

Haiti’s newly named tourism minister will be challenged to resume the strong visitor arrivals growth the destination achieved earlier this decade. Marie-Christine Stephenson’s immediate role will include reviving the tourism sector based on comparative advantages offered by the country, said Jean-Henry Céant, Haiti’s prime minister last week.

Stephenson was named Haiti’s tourism minister on September 18, according to a Ministere du Tourisme d’Haiti (MITC) statement. According to the statement, her appointment will be accompanied by a set of measures taken in order to contribute to the development of the Haitian tourism sector and strengthen or constitute priority tourist sites for the country.

Haiti’s government will also create regional and inter-institutional alliances to be concluded between MTIC and state entities, the statement adds.

“We will multiply partnerships between domestic and foreign players,” Stephenson said. “With their help, major tourist projects will be revived.”

Other measures will include strengthening and multiplying hotel industry “training infrastructures,” creating an institute of tourism and hospitality, facilitating tourism sector investment through “standardization of procedures and cohesion of public institutions,” and the creation of a tourist credit program.

Interest in travel to the economically-challenged but culturally-rich nation surged between 2013, when 420,000 land-based travelers visited Haiti, to 2015, when the country hosted 516,000 visitors. Yet Haiti’s tourism industry has been unable to maintain that momentum. Overnight arrivals fell to 467,000 in 2016 followed by another decline to 421,000 travelers last year.

The country has been able to maintain its growth as a cruise destination. Haiti’s cruise ship arrivals continue to expand, growing from 644,000 visitors in 2013 to 735,000 in 2017.

Haiti is a fascinatingly quixotic country that combines remarkable fascinating cultural and natural attractions with a history of natural and man-made disasters. Throughout, Haitian citizens have displayed indomitable ingenuity, creativity and resilience.

Visitors will witness that spirit while also discovering an array of world-class visitor attractions and a diverse hotel and resort sector.

Stephenson says the MITC initiatives will help the players in the [tourism] sector, which in turn will contribute to the country’s GDP growth.

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