Haitian tourism chiefs have urged the trade to continue supporting the destination despite the devastating impact of Hurricane Matthew.
Haiti took the brunt of last week’s category 4 hurricane, with deaths said to reach at least 1,000. The hurricane also forced the closure of Walt Disney World Resort Florida, Universal Studios and SeaWorld as it continued its path along the south-east coast of the US.
Jacmel, Port-au-Prince and Cotes des Arcadin in Haiti were affected by the hurricane but the clear-up operation is only expected to take two to three weeks in those areas, according to tourist authorities. Some hotels suffered a small amount of damage, but none have been forced to close.
A handful of specialist UK tour operators have started to feature Haiti – which was devastated in 2010 by an earthquake which killed more than 230,000 people - for 2016 and 2017.
Haiti ambassador Bocchit Edmond said: “It’s important people continue to travel to and sell Haiti. Tourism is becoming a very important source of income for the Haiti economy.”
He stressed most of the damage by the hurricane was to the areas not generally visited by tourists in the south. Only G Adventures currently sells tours south of Jacmel.
Edmond added: “Even though we have been hit by Hurricane Matthew, it’s not all of Haiti affected and the tourism areas are not affected. A way to help Haiti recover is to continue to consider Haiti as a tourism destination.
“Tourists will be welcomed and Haiti is just coming back on the tourist map.”
Tour operator Explore is among those to have introduced Haiti to its programme for 2017.
Product director John Telfer said: “Explore introduced Haiti as a destination because it’s a beautiful country which is relatively untouched by tourism.
“Our first Haiti trip is due to depart on October 5, 2017, so at this stage it is too early to say if the trip will be affected by the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Matthew. We will continue to monitor the situation on the ground over the coming months, but we do hope to operate the trips as planned.”
G Adventures is changing the itinerary of its next trip to Haiti, set for November 18, as a result of the hurricane.
Brian Young, managing director, said: “We won’t be visiting Port Salut due to damage, so are working on an altered itinerary. The most important thing for Haiti right now is for travellers to continue travelling there, and give back to the local economy.”
To support the relief efforts in Haiti, the embassy for the Republic of Haiti is hosting a fundraising art exhibition of Haitian art in London from October 14-22 at the Gabriel Fine Arts Gallery, 15 Skylines Village, E14 9TS.
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