Haiti will host UNWTO’s annual regional gathering of tourism authorities, the UNWTO Commission for the Americas. The 58th Meeting of the Commission reflects Haiti’s preparedness to seize the growing tourism momentum in the region to further open sustainable development opportunities through tourism.
The meeting, to be held for the first time in Haiti (19-22 May, Port au Prince) , will serve as an occasion for the country to showcase its recent progress in infrastructure projects, ranging from roads to airports, in support of positioning Haiti’s destinations on the international tourism map.
“The Minister of Tourism of Haiti, Stephanie Villedrouin, has been paving the way to generate new tourism opportunities to generate jobs and support the country’s economy, against the backdrop of political support by President Martelly, for tourism as a driver of improved livelihoods in Haiti”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai. “As we transition towards the new Sustainable Development Goals after 2015, this meeting could not have been announced more timely, underscoring the potential of tourism as a natural ally for socio-economic progress”, he added.
Especially for the world’s Small Island Developing States (SIDS), tourism has been singled out as a key activity for economic progress and social cohesion. In 2013, 41 million international tourists visited the SIDS, generating US$ 61 billion in foreign earnings. Island States have a natural competitive tourism advantage, for half of which the sector accounts for more than 40% of the value of all exports of goods and services. International tourism is both a primary source of foreign exchange earnings with an important economic impact, equating more than 20% of GDP in several of the SIDS.
The Americas accounts for a 16% share of international tourists worldwide (168 million) and a 20% share of receipts (US$ 230 billion). In 2013, international tourist arrivals to the Americas increased by 3% while export earnings from tourism grew by 6%.
Haiti was able to substantially increase international arrivals and tourism revenues, growing 20% and 32% between 2012 and 2013, respectively.