THIS WEEK I had the opportunity to read an article about the study of Haiti tourism done by the University of Michigan, but quickly I understood that it was just another American institution trying to minimize the effort of Haitian people to take the control of their economy.
The saddest thing about this new situation is not that they’re trying to minimize our efforts to finally do something without being lectured, but that their greatest supporters are Haitians, who think supporting those media or those groups of people against a group of Haitians who are trying to make a difference is the best thing to do to help Haiti. YOU ARE WRONG.
The article states that the decision of the Haitian government to prioritize tourism as part of its development program is “unrealistic.”
But one thing they forget to mention is that this is not only an effort of the government — this is an effort of all Haitians who support the idea. All Haitians that are also risking their investments to make this idea a reality by building new hotels, new transportation companies, new tour operators, new tourism marketing companies, while the government is working to build more infrastructure to make the dream of Haitian people come true.
We have been dictated for a long time by the media on how we should see our country, but we should never forget that the poverty of Haiti is the benefit of a lot of countries.
Lot of people from those countries have jobs or careers because most Haitians don’t have one. Lots of people from those countries can drive nice cars, because most of Haitians can’t even afford to pay a tap-tap. Lots of them have great places to stay, because most Haitians do not have somewhere to call home. Lots of them can afford to go to the greatest restaurants in the world, because most Haitians cannot eat.
The article also stated that more than 70 percent of Haitians live on less than $2 a day. Since the 2010 earthquake, it is more common to see missionaries and aid workers here than beach-bound vacationers. I think It is a great opportunity to explain that most of the so-called missionaries are in reality beach bound vacationers.
They go to the beaches every weekend, they go frequently to the most beautiful restaurants in Haiti, but all they show is the worst of Haiti when they know better. Because, like I mentioned before, the mentality of Haiti’s poverty is big benefit for those people, for those companies, for those organizations.
There are a lot of things in the world that seem unrealistic. But making people feel sorry for Haiti and Haitians all the time for them to survive as nation is what is truly unrealistic, when we have all the potential to take control of our future.
Making people believe that Haiti is one of the most dangerous countries in the Caribbean, is unrealistic, when all that happens in this country is simply a reflection of those who want to control our lives forever.
It was unrealistic to imagine that we would be able to drive a car 100 years ago, it was unrealistic for some people to realize that we would be able communicate with someone on the other side of the world in seconds. There are plenty of things that remain unrealistic in the minds of some people, including seeing Haiti developed by Haitians and with Haitian ideas,and money.
Haitians should understand that the development of Haiti cannot be limited by the study of a university or organization.
Now is the perfect time to come together, to educate each other and support the good initiatives by our government. It is time to support each other; it is time to understand that we all have our parts to play in the development of Haiti.
Haiti is a poor country and we can’t deny that, but it’s a poor country with a lot of potential. It’s a poor country with some great natural resources that can be used for its own development.
We are not different from Americans, Europeans or Asians —our greatest enemy is ignorance. Critics want to make sure that ignorance remains. We have made some great progress for the past two years in the tourism sector, and we should not let anyone destroy it.
Instead, we should come together to work, to support, but most importantly, to give an example of unity to the world.
It is unfortunate that during this study they did not contact key people who have been working in Haiti’s tourism industry for a long time.
The last thing to understand is that Labadee is part of Haiti. Don’t let people make you believe that we cannot have these kinds of leisure tourists if we are willing to invest to have more spots like Labadee, but with Haitian Investment. If countries like Jamaica and the Dominican Republic can have big investment in the tourism sector, Haiti can also.
Davidson Toussaint is the Founder and CEO of Haiti Tourism, Inc.
Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.