Diaspora Tourism: An untapped opportunity for Haiti

The newly renovated seaside of the city of Jacmel Haiti. Photo: Port-au-Princien

By Carlo Chancelien

“Diasporas can help open markets for new tourist destinations in their countries of heritage.” -Malina Dumas, International Diaspora Engagement Alliance (IDEA)

Over the past years, tourism has greatly evolved as an activity solely reserved for the elite and the most fortunate. It has become a significant social and economic phenomenon in today’s world. Travelers these days have different profiles and showcase a wide range of diverse interests and needs regarding motivations to travel. More recently, creative tourism has gained popularity as a form of cultural tourism—drawing on active participation by travelers in the culture of the host communities they visit.


Diaspora Tourism:

Diaspora tourism comes in many shapes and forms, including family visits, heritage or “roots” tourism, among other renditions. Regardless of the purpose of their travels, diaspora members are more likely to infuse money into the local economy when traveling to their country of heritage than most international tourists. Diasporas can help open markets for new tourist destinations in their countries of heritage. As diaspora tourists travel to less-frequented regions to connect with friends and family or participate in various cultural events, they will promote the creation of new attractions, including general services for tourists outside of the major cities. The same diaspora tourists might later choose to invest in local businesses in the region after making connections on their visits. They will likely become natural ambassadors for the discovered destinations, influence others to visit through social media, word of mouth, and may later become more involved with local community projects.


The Role of the Haitian Government:

The Haitian diaspora is estimated at roughly 2 million people, sending almost US $3 billion yearly in remittances to Haiti, according to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which represents the equivalent of more than half of Haiti’s gross national product (GNP). The Ministry of Tourism, along with the Ministry of Haitians Living Abroad (MHAVE), could develop a joint plan to attract and motivate the Haitian diaspora to visit. This way, diaspora Haitians have a way to establish an emotional connection with Haiti.

Among the many ways and means of capitalizing on the previously mentioned opportunity, I suggest the following to the Haitian government to develop diaspora tourism:

  • Offering educational and cultural exchange programs to the Haitian diaspora
  • Developing a campaign targeting middle-class Haitians living abroad
  • Working with airlines, hotels, airports, and authorities to make entry to Haiti easier and cheaper

The above mentioned could make the Haitian diaspora more eager to rediscover and reconnect with their country of origin and would ultimately result in an increase in revenue for the Haitian economy, including a growth in the tourism sector of Haiti.

Haitian Times

Haitian Times

The Haitian Times was founded in 1999 as a weekly English language newspaper based in Brooklyn, NY.The newspaper is widely regarded as the most authoritative voice for Haitian Diaspora.
Haitian Times
Apr. 23, 2018

5 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Diaspora Tourism: An untapped opportunity for Haiti”

  1. Fred S. Millan says:

    RE: Diaspora tourism by Chancelien.

    – Great idea that is long overdue as proposed by Chancelien, but obscuring the idea by a Haitian tar like “targeting middle class Haitian in the diaspora”. Is he not aware that this class division and subdivision is what is at the root of Haiti’s weakness.
    This proposal should be eliminated Chancelien. Modern and updated marketing does not carry such mediocrity, but instead serve the public
    at large searching for diversity, fun, and quality services. Your outdated, and negative idea should not be part of any analysis trying to help
    or upgrade Haiti’s value, and assets.

    • Carlo Chancelien says:

      Fred S. Millan, thanks so much for reading my article, and I do appreciate your time.
      By “Developing a campaign targeting middle-class Haitians living abroad”, I mean, to develop a “top of mind” marketing campaign, to target the people who are into traveling; since the subject is “diaspora tourism”.
      There is a big number of Haitians in the diaspora that are traveling every year to Caribbean destinations, some of them even have annual family reunions in the Dominican Republic; but do not think of Haiti as a tourism destination.

      By targeting I don’t mean to exclude nor discriminate against anyone, however Marketing is about “segmentation” and “targeting”; you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

      So thanks again for reading the article, and I would really appreciate if you could share with us what you think should be done, to attract our diaspora to Haiti. Have a great day!

  2. Ti jojo says:

    As ignorant as this may sound , I am going to Puerto Plata with some friends in the coming months. The government needs to step up. I truly believed in Martelly and he let me down. His children are racing bentley coupes on the street of Petionville. Wonder where that money came from? Original son from Croix des Bouquets and I guess I’m doing well for myself. D.R and Aruba can get my money for now until they get it together.

  3. Bernie Mat says:

    I would also suggest for the government to allow for dual citizenship. The diaspora can contribute a lot in government roles as well.

  4. Kenny Cash says:

    The Haitian Diaspora must work with the Haitian government to create a bank to help create a better financial link between the diaspora and Haitians living in Haiti to better develop the real estate sector, a Haitian who has a stable job of more than 5 years in the United States, Canada, France or elsewhere and who is able to obtain a mortgage in his country must be able to obtain one in Haiti to build his house or buy a condo while still working abroad. Imagine if 25% of Haitians who bought a home in the United States or elsewhere do that instead in Haiti the economic benefits would be huge for the country. In job creation and local tourism.

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