New Haitian Tourism Minister Pledges to Continue Arrivals Growth
PHOTO: Stephanie Villedrouin stepped down this week as Haiti’s tourism minister. (photo by Brian Major)
The interim leader of Haiti’s new government has moved quickly to fill the country’s top tourism post. Enex Jean-Charles, the recently-named prime minister, appointed Guy Didier Hyppolite minister of tourism and creative industries this week, replacing Stephanie Villedrouin.
In his new post Hyppolite, a former vice president of Haiti's Tourism Association, will serve in the administration of Jocelerme Privert, who was elected interim president in February. Privert will remain president pending a general election in no more than 120 days.
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Villedrouin issued a statement congratulating Hyppolite and noting he is assuming the agency’s leadership as Haiti has “crossed the threshold of half a million visitors” with “tourism now (occupying) the third position in our exports.” Haiti hosted 515,768 visitors in 2015, a 10.9 percent increase over 2014. As for 2014, Haiti hosted 465,174 overnight visitors, a 10 percent increase over 2013.
Villedrouin described tourism as “an engine for economic growth” in Haiti and said during her tenure she worked to achieve “the creation and standardization of various links in the tourism chain allowing visitors a memorable and safe experience at our destination” from airport reception and transfer to “development of our natural and historical sites.”
Villedrouin said she hoped Haiti can achieve “two million (annual) visitors and 30,000 hotel rooms” by 2035. Previously manager of a small mountain hotel, Villedrouin joined the Tourism Association of Haiti as a board member and was appointed tourism minister in the cabinet of former president Michel Martelly in 2011.
She joined the ministry as the country sought to overcome years of political turmoil and the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake to rebuild what had once been a thriving tourism sector.
Under her leadership Martelly’s administration has unveiled plans for a $345 million investment in new hotel rooms, cruise port developments and tourism infrastructure. The projects include the village of Cotes-de-Fer, where a 5,680-acre, $266 million development including four hotels and an 18-hole golf course is planned, and the southern Haitian island of Ile-a-Vache, where the government has launched work on development featuring 2,500 rooms and an international airport.
Haiti is planning a $70 million cruise ship pier and facility on Tortuga Island in partnership with cruise giant Carnival Corp. Haiti has also welcomed several new hotels in recent years, including the 173-room Marriott Port au Prince, which opened in 2014 and Hotel Indigo Royal Decameron Beach Resort, an all-inclusive, 400-room property in Haiti’s Cote des Arcadins, which launched earlier this year.
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Hyppolite said under his leadership the Tourism Ministry would “continue to promote the beauty of our beloved country, to assist operators and put in place the solid structural foundations essential for sustainable development of this leading economic sector.”
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