WASHINGTON, D.C.: The World Bank has announced that nearly 35,000 residents from localities in the north of Haiti will benefit from economic opportunities, new infrastructure and support to cultural events as a result of a US$45 million grant for tourism development.
The U.S.-based financial institution said that the project aims at improving access, conservation and management of the World Heritage Site of the National Historic Park and the historic center of Cap Haitien, as well as establishing new destinations for travelers.
The bank said northern Haiti has strong potential for regional development through tourism with its World Heritage sites and natural assets, such as the National Historic Park, which has attracted more than 30,000 visitors in 2013.
It also noted the tourist stopover of Labadie, where the ships of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line are anchoring off the same coast where Christopher Columbus’ ship landed in 1492.
The bank said this “represents a real potential for further tourism development in the region” and ongoing government initiatives to renovate the Cap-Haitien International Airport and rehabilitate the highway from Port-au-Prince to Cap-Haitien will allow better access of potential local and international visitors to the area.
“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 labour intensive and will attract the private sector.”
The World Bank said concrete results to be achieved by the cultural heritage preservation and tourism sector support project are conservation of the Citadelle Henry, the Palace of Sans Souci, the Chapel of Sans Souci and Ramiers site.
It said other goals include urban renewal of the historical center of Cap-Haitien, targeting certain monuments and streets and supporting the creation of 370 small and medium entities providing cultural services and tourism.
“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. I would like to highlight that one of the strengths of the project is that it involves the communities to preserve their heritage and benefit from the economic returns of tourism.”
The World Bank said the six-year project was developed with the United Nations Educational, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which will provide technical assistance to the Institute for the Protection of National Heritage (ISPAN) for park management and the rehabilitation of buildings.