Bill Clinton promotes tourism in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: During a visit to Haiti last week, in his capacity as a United Nations (UN) special envoy, former U.S. president Bill Clinton issued a call for tourists to visit the nation.

“I love this place. It’s wonderful. I see the potential,” he said.

With infrastructure improvement, such as better roads, visitors from the United States and elsewhere would be able to experience what Haiti has to offer, Clinton said.

Clinton, who was appointed in June to serve as a special envoy for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, visited Haiti in a bid to boost investment in the nation.

He called on Haiti’s government to build a national airport in the north of the country, home to most of the nation’s historic sights.

As an example of Haiti’s tourism potential, Clinton cited the success of the nation’s neighbour on the island of Hispaniola — the Dominican Republic – which attracts two million tourists a year.

Clinton encouraged Haiti to carefully preserve its monuments and historic sites, while working to protect the country’s environment.

Haiti has been devastated by unchecked deforestation for charcoal production, leaving the nation with less than two per cent vegetation coverage.

Clinton was named special UN envoy with a mandate to mobilize international donors to contribute to Haiti, which was ravaged by storms in 2008 and has an employment rate of 70 per cent.

During his trip, Clinton hosted a meeting of more than 200 potential investors from throughout the Americas, telling them it was a moment of “great opportunity” for foreign investment in Haiti.

“I can tell you the political risk in Haiti is lower that it has ever been in my lifetime,” Clinton said, adding that he and the Haitian government would work to accommodate any requests by investors.

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