Tourism is an effective lever that can stimulate growth and reduce the unemployment rate. It stands out as a high-potential sector, a true resource of wealth and one of the only viable opportunities for economic diversification for developing countries in particular.
At the macroeconomic level, the share of tourism in world GDP is around 10% and its direct contribution to world GDP is still 3.1%. (World Tourism Organization 2017).
Because of its transversal nature, tourism creates multiplier effects and substantial training effects on other sectors insofar as it promotes the emergence of other industries by supporting the development of local industries, and it transforms economic and social structures that can broaden the base of economic growth by stimulating domestic production.
Despite all these potentialities, it is a very fragile sector of activity to the extent that tourism receipts are negatively affected to the least problem related to insecurity, insalubrity or socio-political unrest.
In comparison to this, one can wonder why to support such a sector in a country like Haiti where crises, instabilities are recurrent, resurgent or even constant?
This is the thorny question that we want try to bring some explanations through this paper.
Haiti was one of the first tourist destinations of the Caribbean in the 1950s, especially with the waves of winter cruises. This earned him the nickname of the pearl of the West Indies.
In 1951, over 10788 tourists visited the country. Four years later, this number rose to 24,831.
During the 1960s and 1970s, the country was one of the most popular destinations in the region.
Later, in the years 1972, the country received a total of 67625 tourists.
In 8 years, from 1951 to 1959, the number of tourist stays has increased more than 8 times according to Paul Moral. The country offered its visitors its products of all kinds but also the elements that are specific to it.
By the year 1979, Haiti exceeded 300,000 tourists according to Sarrasin & Renaud 2014.
Closer to home, 2012 was a year in which several initiatives were taken to promote the emancipation of this sector, particularly in level of development of certain sites and the choice of tourist development zones.
However, this sector has experienced periods marked by sporadic jolts, recessions, crises and political instabilities that are a real nuisance to its development. environment. Elements that also constitute the objective analysis framework for foreign investors. What reflects the instability does not inspire confidence and the policy should not be a hindrance to the development of this sector.
Because political and economic stabilities are the essential raw materials for the growth of tourist travel
Moreover, political stability is generally associated with the legitimacy of government power (Lemco, 1991, Weber, 1995). by pockets of political and economic instability.
Some destinations benefit from the instability and insecurity associated with other destinations.
Thus, the image of a destination – which arises from subjective representations and interpretations – leads to the creation of impressions of stability or instability that are very fragile and easily interchangeable.
Tourism therefore desperately needs stability resulting from a perception of which the media are the main vectors. The perception of risk therefore depends largely on the media coverage of an event or phenomenon occurring in a given country (the case of Mexico in 2014). Hence the question of institutions.
Thailand offers an interesting example as well. This South-East Asian country, considered a landmark in this region for many years, has been the subject of frequent changes in governments, particularly through the intervention of the military. To the extent that these changes were apparently smooth and non-violent, the regime's perception of stability was kept in the minds of visitors so that the tourism industry continued to grow (Hall and O'Sullivan , 1996). This situation shows that representations of political stability and instability are fundamental features of a tourist destination, whose importance often exceeds that of natural and cultural attractions.
Therefore, destinations and tourism activities are vulnerable, they are reactive to any disruption of their system and their operating environment and the ability of territories to attract tourists is obviously impacted by political instability.
On the other hand, insecurity is one of the factors of decline of world tourism. Because tourists are sensitive to security risk. For some time now, violence and crime have been of great concern in Latin America.
At the level of the Caribbean, despite a decrease in homicides which is close to 35% in 2009 and 2012, Jamaica still holds one of the highest rates in the world. the highest in the Americas. The number of homicides recorded between January and June increased by 19% compared to that recorded during the same period in 2016, according to police statistics.
In January and March, the independent commission of inquiry ( INDECOM), a police oversight mechanism, received 73 new complaints of assault and identified 42 homicides committed by law enforcement officials. During the year, 168 people were killed by police, against 111 in 2016.
Jamaica, which has some 2.7 million inhabitants, has one of the highest crime rates in the world with 43 killings per 100,000 inhabitants in 2015. She declared a state of emergency in the second city of Montego Bay Island, a tourist city of 200,000 inhabitants or 335 murders were committed in 2017, which has pushed the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to warn their nationals.
At the beginning of the year 2018, local Jamaican tourist authorities are worried about the security problems that have occurred. place in the parish of St. James.
Despite this, Jamaica remains one of the best-known destinations in the Caribbean. This country saw its tourist inflow increase by 5.4% for the first quarter of 2018. Overall, the number of passengers on the ground has increased by 5.9% and cruises by 4.8% compared to same period last year corresponding to 1.25 million and 1 million respectively. A year-over-year increase of more than 100,000 visitors
Indeed, the initiatives of several development agencies such as UNDP, the IMF which contributed to the implementation of the PRSP poverty reduction) in many poor countries have also focused on tourism development as a factor that can lead to growth in developing countries, given the availability of cheap, inexpensive labor and low-cost services.
Because of its economic weight and the revenues it generates, this sector represents an opportunity for LDCs, which together with mass tourism could become popular destinations.
All in all, despite certain challenges linked to political instability and institutional weakness, Haiti represents a breeding ground for tourism potential. The country remains a very courted destination especially in the Caribbean region.
However, in the current context, it is important to:
- Boost the Haitian tourist ecosystem by promoting innovative ideas adapted to the reality of the 21st century.
- Repositioning Haiti as a tourist destination in the region by capitalizing on the achievements of the last years
- Finally answering the main challenges of this tourism sector whose instability is one of the most important
In fact, the quest for development in Haiti, through tourism, can only rely on urgent public interventions in partnership with other stakeholders and an integrated participation of the population in the sector to redefine the priorities of Haiti in sustainable tourism. Ultimately, strategies to curb political instability and prevent tourism in the dark in Haiti pass, among other things, by establishing and implementing real public policies to improve the frameworks and conditions of life of the population
Obed Blacker Dorvilus, Student graduating in Quantitative Economics applied option planning at CTPEA
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