Tourism in Haiti
Tourism in Haiti shares the same contested history with the country's economic development throughout the 20th century, and the distinction between the two is often blurred.
Like most tourism during the turn of the 19th century, tourism in Haiti ostensibly began with a series of popularized travelogues. Many of these travel narratives were themselves the result of the "opening up" of Haiti during the US Occupation (1915-1934) and Western capitalist expansion across the greater Caribbean. Authors invariably wrote on topics concerning racism and "The Negro Question" (i.e. whether Haiti and blacks in general were capable of civilization and self-rule), Haitian Revolutionary Intrigue, and Voodoo Mystique. The sights which these texts reported became the foundation for the country's more celebrated attractions following World War II.
Since the second half of the 20th century, tourism in Haiti has suffered from the country’s political upheaval. Inadequate infrastructure also has limited visitors to the island. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, tourism was an important industry, drawing an average of 150,000 visitors annually. Following the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in 1991, tourism has recovered slowly. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has joined the Haitian government in efforts to restore the island’s image as a tourist destination. In 2001, 141,000 foreigners visited Haiti. Most came from the United States. Further improvements in hotels, restaurants, and other infrastructure still are needed to make tourism a major industry for Haiti.
Due to recent political instability, tourism - once a significant industry - has suffered in Haiti, with the exception of Labadee, a port located on the country's northern coast. Labadee is a resort leased long term by Royal Caribbean International. Although sometimes described in advertisements as an island in its own right, it is actually contiguous with the rest of Hispaniola. Labadee is fenced off from the surrounding area. The cruise ships dock at the pier, and passengers disembark to the resort, often without being told they are in Haiti. . Attractions include a Haitian Flea Market, traditional Haitian dance performances, numerous beaches, watersports, and a waterpark. Lately the city of Jacmel, due to its reputation as being less politically volatile, its French colonial era architecture, its colorful cultural carnival, pristine beaches and a nascent film festival has been attracting local tourists and a small amount of international tourism.
Despite obstacles, Haiti's rich culture and history has allowed the country to maintain a moderate and potentially rising tourist industry.
- Yarrington, Landon. 2009. "From Sight to Site to Website: Travel-Writing, Tourism, and the American Experience in Haiti, 1900-2008." M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary.
- Landon Yarrington, "From Sight to Site to Website: Travel-Writing, Tourism, and the American Experience in Haiti, 1900-2008." M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, College of William and Mary.
- Haiti travel guide from Wikivoyage