This week Berlin is celebrating the 53 years anniversary of one of the largest Tourism trade shows in the world. What began in 1966 as a small event in the framework of an overseas import trade show has developed into a true global success. The original five participating countries and regions have grown to over 180, the first 250 trade visitors have increased to over 114,000 and the exhibition space expanded from 580 m² to today’s 160,000 m².
I arrived in Berlin from London, UK, where I stayed for a few days to meet a few potential partners for the Tourism Innovation Center, an organization that aims to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in the tourism sector in Haiti by developing new partnerships through programs and cross-border networks in the tourism industry, as well as the public and private sectors. Travel & Tourism is responsible for the creation of 7 million new jobs worldwide, while the sector as a whole grew at 4.6%, much faster than the rest of the economy, according to the World Travel Tourism Council’s (WTTC) Economic Impact Research. If we are serious about developing Haiti economically, we should include a tourism development strategy, and we definitely don’t have to start big, we only need to start with a big vision and execute in a timely manner with probably several small scale investments, projects and tourism events, until we have the capability to grow bigger.
Now one might ask; with everything going in Haiti right now, do you think it’s the right decision to promote tourism? One thing we should know, tourism is simply a tool to stimulate and help grow a country’s economy, and it is not the only one. In a country like Haiti, Agriculture can also be an important sector. However, what’s happening in Haiti right now is temporary, we should of course manage all these current crises and plan accordingly for the future, but they (crises) should serve as indicators to design better plans for the future and as a prevention for our long term strategic planning for a sustainable economy growth in Haiti. We tend to keep the discussion going during the first and the largest Tourism Innovation Summit to take place this June in the historical city of Cap-Haitien. Let’s start where we are with what we have.