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Haiti seeking the spotlight

Bevan Springer | 9/5/2012, 6:29 p.m.
NEW YORK (Sept. 6, 2012)--The Caribbean nation of Haiti is elevating its tourism marketing with...
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Haiti seeking the spotlight

NEW YORK (Sept. 6, 2012)--The Caribbean nation of Haiti is elevating its tourism marketing with a giant billboard promoting the new image of Haiti on Interstate 95 in Miami.

The bold positioning of the Caribbean country in one of the busiest highways in the Sunshine State follows several months of close collaboration and planning between the Consulate General of Haiti in Miami and the Ministry of Tourism of Haiti.Aimed to stimulate demand for Haiti's environmental splendor and investment potential, the billboard is positioned near 79th Street in Miami and attracts about 664,000 viewers per week.

Haiti, once a Caribbean gem for leisure tourists, entertainment, business and culture, became marginalized by political instability, crime, poverty and, more recently, the catastrophic earthquake that nearly flattened the capital.

The new Michel Martelly administration wants to restore Haiti's appeal to prominent position with investors and leisure travelers by utilizing the nation's diplomatic and consular missions.

Francois Guillaume II, consul general of Haiti in Miami, wants the innovative policy to leverage consular resources to promote the destination. From the capital, Minister of Tourism Stephanie Villedrouin directs efforts to place Haiti in Caribbean tour operator brochures and travel magazines.

"I would love people to think of Haiti as a nice country with a beautiful population who are ready to receive them, and that's the message we want to send to the world--that Haiti has nice areas that we need to promote while we address and fix our problems," stated Villedrouin.

During a recent visit to New York, the minister said Haiti's revival as a prime destination would be helped by attracting more franchise hotels like Marriott and Choice to the country."We have to reassure the tourists that when they arrive at the destination, [they will get value for their money]. Service is the No. 1 key to promoting the destination because there is a lot of competition, and if you do not target your service and increase it, you [will be left behind]," she asserted.

"I am following up with the private sector not only on seeking new investment in Haiti but on training the workforce ... [and] I am confident that these new brands will help us change the image of Haiti once and for all," Villedrouin opined.