|Photo of Port Salut, Haïti: Aaron Rose|
Haïti has some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, Port Salut is a small town in southern Haïti where local Haitians and tourists seek relaxation and tranquility. I stayed at Auberge du Rayon Vert, owned by Mr. Christian Barriere, is located approximately 100 yards from the beach (although not always enforced, it is illegal to construct a dwelling on Haïti's beaches). This small hotel provided me with impeccable service including a full service restaurant (grilled lobster and shrimp!!) and a small bar serving fine French cognac. If you are like me and need to stay connected with the outside world, the hotel, as many of the hotels I visited in Haïti, had wireless Internet access.
Jacmel, the capital of the department of Sud-Est, is known as Haïti's cultural capital. It is a port town with an estimated population of 40,000. Jacmel's unique architecture is similar to what one would find in New Orleans consisting of cast iron pillars and balconies. Jacmel boasts an active art scene with small galleries dotted throughout the city and has hosted successful film and music festivals. I stayed at the very modern Cap Lamandou Hotel, which offers a breathtaking view over the bay and surrounding mountains.
|Photo of the Citadel: Aaron Rose|
|Photo: Royal Caribbean International|
Regarding security in Haïti, I felt safe traveling around the country, but there is a strong presence that security is very fragile. Roads throughout most of the country are in poor condition as Haïti as very few financial resources to regularly maintain them, but funding from governments like the Republic of China (Taiwan) has been used to construct a new road through Port Salut. I traveled by airplane from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haïtien, but the airports are in need of vast improvements if Haïti is to welcome visitors from around the world. (I often heard of a development plan to modernize the airport in Cap-Haïtien, but no one could provide me with a timetable to implement this plan.) Similar to most markets, the cost of energy (fuel) is high, which creates it own challenges in tourism development, and electricity is unreliable and often absent except through diesel generators.
Even with the high level of poverty prevalent throughout the country, Haïti has the potential to building a vibrant tourism industry focusing on its unique culture, history, and environment. Given the myriad of development challenges Haïtians face, however, tourism should serve as a catalyst to developing education, health care, public infrastructure, and capacity building in the public sector. With the right strategy and implementation drivers, Haïti could be the Pearl of the Caribbean.
Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.