World Bank's IDA provides support for Haiti’s budding tourism industry

Published on by Rachel Belt (author)

Stephanie Villedrouin, Minister of Tourism (photo: )
Stephanie Villedrouin, Minister of Tourism

WASHINGTON (HCNN) -- The World Bank has approved a $45 million grant from the International Development Association to improve the conservation and management of a series of cultural and historic heritage and tourist destinations linked to the rich history of the Caribbean country.

The money will be used in a 6-year project to develop Haiti’s National Historic Park, improve the seismic resilience of the Citadelle and Palace San Souci and the Historic center of the northern city of Cap-Haitian. The grant, approved on Wednesday, will benefit nearly 35,000 people living in touristic areas.

"Developing the North as a tourism destination in a sustainable way is part of the vision of the Ministry of Tourism," said Stephanie Villedrouin, Haiti's Minister of Tourism. "Improving the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage is essential to achieve this objective," she explained.

Villedrouin highlighted the fact that "one of the strengths of the project is that it involves the communities in the preservation of their heritage as they benefit from the economic returns of tourism."

Haiti’s government has focused on the tourism sector as a key investment and job growth sector, opening tourism training schools and focusing on a multimillion dollar tourism development plan in the southern Island of Ile-a-vache.

Cooperation agreements were signed recently between Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Mexico to promote tourism. A 20% increase has been reported in the number of tourists who visited the country last year, which is just under half a million.

The Haitian government banks on tourism to fight poverty which is also a great priority for the World Bank.

"There is a growing demand to develop tourism in Haiti and the government is working effectively to promote the destination," said Mary Barton- Dock, World Bank Special Envoy to Haiti.

"This is the opportunity to develop the tourism industry which is labor intensive and will attract the private sector," Barton-Dock stated.

The project plans to attract 16,000 visitors to the National Historic Park and support the creation of 370 small and medium entities providing cultural services and tourism.

International explorers announced earlier this month that the wreck of Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria, may have been found off the coasts of the northern town of Cap-Haitien, which has the potential to become a major tourist attraction.

Tourism is the number one source of revenue for the great majority of Caribbean countries, with the Dominican Republic being the first tourist destination within the sub-region.

The IDA-sponsored project will be coordinated by the Technical Implementation Unit of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, in collaboration with the Heritage protection institute, known as ISPAN, which operates under the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, and the Inter-ministerial Committee for Spatial Planning, known as CIAT. 

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