Tourism in Haiti

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The Haiti earthquake was not only one of those humanitarian catastrophes that have been witnessed in the recent years but it was among the most devastating and hopeless blows to all the efforts that were meant to put back Haition the main tourism map. The main disappointment and irony of all this is that the earthquake came just as soon as Haiti was recovering and showing some signs of recovery from its usual myriad criminal and political crises as well as achieving stability so that the visitors could be welcomed back again. Haiti hence had no choice than to deal with loss of thousands of its citizens as well as the destruction of the infrastructure for example utilities, buildings and roads that were quite far from what can be termed as ideal even before the earthquake. Haiti was in its verge of capitalizing on its clear weather as well as the tropical scenery in order to attract the tourists when the 7.0 magnitude of earthquake rocked the country killing many people and living others homeless(LLC, 2010). Tourism can be the main vehicle which will helpHaitipeople to refute from going back to their usual condition and hence go into a much better condition than the one they were. Because of the incident,Haiti now has a reputation for instability and danger. The country has hence being given the worst rap. Environmental problems, crimes as well as the urban decay all have a place to call home at Haiti. It is therefore imperative to come into terms with the effect of the disaster on tourism industry in Haiti as well as the theories of restoring destinations to see Haiti back to its peak.

           Haiti’s tourism was one that bustled 25 years ago. The exotic locale as well as the untamed scenery were the best legendary that the country could be proud of. It attracted the movie stars as well as the business moguls globally. It was hence replaced by a complete different trend of drug trafficking, dictatorship, violence and vast poverty. The recent history aboutHaitihowever is neither here nor there as despite everything that has happened it is one of the countries that have immense beauty to offer. The people ofHaitias well as its government are putting enormous efforts to restore this island into a tourist haven it ought to be. The gingerbread houses as well as the palm trees are one of the things that make this city to be the most beautiful and exciting destination in theCaribbean. The voodoo artwork as well as the fading buildings givesHaitithe exoticism which does remind them that this was one of the best tourist attractions inCaribbean.

Haitican be well described as the biblical Job in the Western hemisphere as it has the unfortunate distinction of having most crises. The earthquake that destroyed most of the capital port au prince is one of the vastest calamities that have happened in an immense line of some natural disasters which this country has so far experienced.  Bearing the fact that it is also coupled with immense political instability, chronic poverty, and environmental degradation because of deforestation, massive inequalities and crimes then from a glance it seems thatHaitiand tourism is completely at immense odds.

TheHaitidestruction has hence placed most developments at hold asHaitineighbors are focused on rescue as well as relief programs in order to deal with the massive rate of deaths as well as injuries, the vast destruction of infrastructure and property and the disrupted telecommunications and transport. The extent of this catastrophe inHaitialmost parallels the worst that was experienced in the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. After 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the United Nations World Tourism Organization hence convened on an emergency meeting that was held in Phuket  in order to come up with a plan to recover tourism in all the affected areas and most of the plan that were developed were adopted by Sri Lanka and Thailand (Marcia, 2008pp. 55).

However, the situation atHaitiis more challenging than that experienced bySri LankaandThailandas the tourism infrastructure during this period was at the embryonic level. In Haiti there ought to have some sustainable master plan which will address the environmental degradation which will help in reforestation and the establishment of the infrastructures which would only focus on those simple as well as the tourism resorts and accommodation which will involve the local people to construct as well as manage. The transplanting of the western style as far as the tourism infrastructure is concerned inHaitiwill help in creation of wealth to some Haitians though it might not be a real encompassing solution.

It is imperative to focus on the damages that the disaster atHaiticaused before embarking on the strategies that need to be undertaken in order to improve the situation. The integration of disaster management is crucial given the fact thatHaitiis among the smallestIslandand among the developing states. It is also relevant to note thatHaitiis the poorest country as far as the Western hemisphere is concerned. The reconstruction that is needed should be seen as one of the main prospects that are aimed at rebuilding the country with enhanced structures and standards. This will provide a prospect for health facilities as well as schools in both the private and the public domain that were destroyed to be rebuilt in a more resilient manner to avoid future disasters.

What is most striking when one embarks on the major situation both before and after 2008, is the extent in which occurrence of disasters have potential to change everything that have been so far being achieved as far as development is concerned. There are various issues that did contribute to Haitians more prone to losses and damages. One of them is the social vulnerability. The fact that the country is affected by immense poverty and a majority of Haitians are living in precarious conditions and it’s highly populated thus the catastrophe worsened the events.

There is also an issue of economic vulnerability as many people are unemployed. The immense as well as the intense deforestation has led to soil erosion.Haitihas been going through soil and environmental degradation due to abuse of trees.

Agriculture as well as the climate which is a major tourist attraction is the major productive sectors inHaitithough it was one of the most affected after the natural hazard in the year 2008. The productivity in the agricultural sector has been decreasing for the last 15 years and has made food security inHaitito be a very worrying concern. The tourism sector was one of the most affected by these disasters. Because of the tragedy; various houses were built in those areas that were prone to flooding. The 2008 hurricane disaster left thousands of people with no accommodation thus there ought to be better construction standards as one of the ways to manage disasters.

In order to reduce or curb the effects of the natural disasters, priority ought to be given to enough prevention and preparation policies as one of the most integral issue of development strategies.Haitipeople need to cope with the existing weaknesses and make use of experience and knowledge that have been acquired over many years in order for preparedness and prevention to become the major elements of the future and current sustainable policies for development.

In the Indian Ocean Tsunami just like inHaiti, the solid wastes as well as the disasters debris remained the most adverse environmental catastrophe that the country faced (Phil, 2009, pp. 266).Haitishould follow the same management policies like those of the Indian Ocean Tsunami. In the Indian Ocean Tsunami, a strategy was implemented to make sure that all the wastes were recycled in a fair manner and the wastes were also recycled where necessary to produce the aggregate for building and road construction.

Tourism has so far proven to be the main pillar as far as economic development in most regions in the world is concerned. In the year 2003, the tourism sector was the vastest business sector in the global economy that employed more than 200 million and generated 3.6 trillion in the entire economic activity and accounts for 1 in 12 jobs globally (Milena, 2009, pp. 71). Across theCaribbean, the relevance of tourism for gaining income, sustaining and creating jobs, encouraging the foreign investment as well as facilitating the trade opportunities that can never be denied.

Today, tourism still stands as the main primary source for the foreign exchange in most countries. The vulnerability nature in the tourism sector to divergent disasters always triggers. The tourism sector has been highly affected by ranges of divergent disasters which are biological, natural, man made and also technological.

TheIndian Oceantsunami of the year 2004 revealed how the global tourists were caught in unfolding natural disasters. Thousands of the tourists from the western were victims of tsunami. It caused the vastest loss of lives as far as the numbers of tourists are concerned. The other is the effects of Hurricane Katrina on theNew Orleansin the year 2005 which left over 80% of theNew Orleansunderwater and hence blew the state’s vastest revenue source and in which in the year 2004, drew over 10 million visitors creating 80,000 related jobs (Ronald, 2006, pp. 59).            Because of the disasters that have been paramount inHaiti, these have hence threatened the lives and the safety of the tourists. There has been a downturn as far as the tourism products are concerned for obvious reasons.

There is no doubt that tourism is one of the most valuable industries which is worth protecting. In order to achieve the goal of protecting the tourism product, the tourists as well as the tourism employees; we need to hence determine from all past experiences the approaches that are needed in managing crisis from familiar events like earthquake or hurricane as well as from the unfamiliar events like tsunamis.

The Indian Ocean Tsunami of the year 2004 demonstrated how tourism sector despite all its technological advances as well as the sophisticated buildings turned out to be one of the most vulnerable sectors in the coast. For example because of the high demand for the sceneries instead of safety, the tourism was one of the least sustainable environmental form of the human settlement on Thailand coast and the least that was integrated to the natural ecology.

The Indian Ocean tsunami should teach theHaitipeople that keeping of a decent registry as far as clientele is concerned is quite critical. The security and the management functions for example the safety boxes, reservation desks and the offices should hence be relocated to upper floors in order to function during as well as after disasters.

People need to be more prepared in a more bottom up style during disasters. The role of the knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff that is willing, able and ready to make effectual responses should never be underestimated.  The tourism industry should be prepared to assist themselves during emergencies and maintain good relations with neighbors in order to get the necessary aid.

There should be development of safety rules like the ones that were developed in the Tsunami tragedy whichHaitishould follow in future to avoid too much losses. These safety hazards will help in alerting those who are asleep and does warn on the man made as well as the natural hazards. Some of the Tsunami safety rules are in case one feels the earth shake, they should hence move to higher grounds without waiting for an announcement of a warning.

Also residents need to stay away from the streams as well as rivers incase of these catastrophes. Also for those who are already on water, they should avoid returning to the main port as harbors and ports can trigger more problem. For the people who are already on land, they should hence evacuate their houses incase they live in hurricane storms zones. The other strategy they should emulate is evacuating vertically in case they have no any time to leave the zone as well as following advices from law enforcers and emergency management.

On Phuket, the government of Thai  begun to come up with some tsunami warning towers that do contain some loudspeakers to the broadcast warnings on possibility of Tsunami.Haitipeople should think of coming up with such devices too in future. The other measure it should come up with is the vertical evacuation policy whereby the buildings are constructed in a way which they can tolerate forces of tsunami waves (Jack, 1984).  Tourism globally is quite vulnerable to the changes in the public perception. When news on the earthquakes, violent conflicts or may be a contagious disease hits the media, tourists end up canceling their holidays. There ought to be destination crisis management in the tourism industry.  They should follow the five steps process which include identification of all the risks as well as the hazards, accessing the community which are vulnerable to the risks, developing of a mitigation and a preparedness plan and then monitoring as well as evaluating and revising the entire plan.

When managing disaster risks at the tourism destinations, the first step is to establish a group that will coordinate which will arrive at a consensus on the mission, vision as well as plans and schedules with the allocated budget (Rajib, 2006, pp. 82). The group should analyze after studying the disaster risks and hazards to avoid future reoccurrence.Haitipeople through implementation of the preparedness plan and applying the theories of restoring destinations in crisis will be in a good position to avoid future tragedies.

Experience, knowledge as well as learning are the major facets of plan implementation which should be discussed immensely during the post events adjustments and analyses. This is a major step when reducing the future disasters as well as enhancing resiliency. TheHaitipublic should always be kept educated and informed in the formulation of the plan. The tourism society also have numerous interests that ought to be educated on plan objectives as well as the requirements.

Mainstreaming the reduction of risks as tourism destinations means the creation of a pervasive culture that will aid in disaster preparedness. It also will presuppose a combination of leadership and political will with the disaster goals and management as well as the resources and actions that will strengthen the management operation and infrastructure in the name of achieving resilience.

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