A tranquil beach frequented by fishermen and framed by mountains might become Haiti’s next big tourism destination.
AP reports that President Michel Martelly’s administration is planning to build the Caribbean nation’s biggest tourism development in the mostly uninhabited Cotes-de-Fer.
"We know it's a huge task and it won't be easy, but this is one chance that Haiti cannot miss. We've been at the bottom of the ladder for too long," Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe recently told the Associated Press.
Most tourists traveling to Haiti come via cruise ship, with passengers only visiting Labadee, a fenced-in port and beach attraction. An increase in foreign visitors would help to generate a much-needed economic and employment boost in the poorest country in the Western hemisphere.
The reported $266 million master plan for Cotes-de-Fer includes tax-free investments for 15 years to develop a resort spanning 5,680 acres and boasting up to 20,000 hotel rooms and condos. Carried out over the next two years, the first phase would cost nearly $48 million, with about 1,250 hotel rooms and tourist residences, an 18-hole golf course and a beach club.
But, skeptics like Haitian economist Kesner Pharel have critiqued the viability of the expensive project, pointing to poor infrastructure and the possible return of political instability.
"It's a day-to-day battle to change Haiti's image. But once you experience what it's really like, you leave with a different perception," Tourism Minister Stephanie Villedrouin told AP.
Villedrouin has recently been traveling worldwide in the hopes of securing investors and hospitality companies, such as Apple Leisure Group. The Pennsylvania-based company has already joined forces with the Haitian government to work on the multi-million-dollar project.
Residents of the area are also eager for the opportunities a possible tourism boom would bring.
"We're all hopeful about what the future will bring," Doyana Sterne told AP at while filling jugs at a local water pump. The 15-year-old reportedly "has dreams of becoming a civil engineer to help build up her hometown."
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(Photo: Radius Images/Corbis)
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