By Jennifer Browning
Although the cruise line mostly bills the stop as Hispanola, Miami’s Royal Caribbean Cruises has been making Labadee, Haiti a frequent port of call.
Now the cruise line is making a an investment, nearly $55 million, to fuel hope that Haiti can become a popular tourist destination once more.Royal Caribbean Cruises has extended the palm-lined beach, put in a roller coaster and constructed an 800-foot pier along the coastline of Labadee. The cruise line has also extended its lease on the 260-acre northern peninsula until 2050 and remains committed to the expansion.
With the United States and other nations downgrading travel warnings to Haiti, there is a large push to try to revitalize the tourism industry in Northern Haiti. And former President Bill Clinton, now United Nations Special Envoy for Haiti, is also targeting tourism as a key area for private investment.
On Tuesday, Clinton will discuss his Haiti initiatives during the 13th Annual Americas Conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. Following the conference, Clinton plans to visit Labadee with Royal Caribbean executives and 150 investors when he travels to Haiti on Thursday.
Haiti’s Tourism Minister Patrick Delatour said there has been an effort to at least raise awareness of the Haitian people regarding the need to get back on the international tourism map.
Delatour and Haiti’s tourism operators want to open the north to cruise passengers by turning the Citadelle, an impressive mountaintop fortress, into an international destination where the cruise line could offer hiking and horseback riding excursions.
Transforming the now quaint town of Milot, a $40 million plan, into a vibrant tourist village with arts and crafts markets, restaurants and stoned streets. Milot is home to the Citadelle and Palace of Sans Souci ruins built by 20,000 Haitians and named a World Heritage site in 1982.
Read more in the Miami-Herald’s article here.