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Sustainable tourism is raising living standards on Haiti’s Ile a Vache Island

October 3, 2014 Responsible Tourism No Comments Email Email

The following statement is from Stephanie Balmier-Villedrouin, Minister of Tourism, Republic of Haiti:

The government of Haiti is moving closer to fulfilling its vision of transforming Ile a Vache into one of the most beautiful tourism destinations in the Caribbean.  At the same time, it is raising the quality of life of the island’s men, women, and children.

EventsOur approach to developing Ile a Vache exemplifies the Martelly-Lamothe administration’s commitment to sustainable tourism, and is based on integrating economic, social and cultural development into our overall development plans.

To ensure that the island’s development provides benefits first and foremost to the local community, we have worked closely with local authorities and stakeholders. Also, we have applied a multi disciplinary approach that includes working with our ministries of health, interior, agriculture, culture, environment, social affairs, transport and communications with the aim of developing an integrated and sustainable project.

Haiti’s National office of the Cadastre conducted all of necessary cadastral studies on the island in 2013, more specifically for areas on the coastline.

As of August 2014, more than thirty initiatives have been launched, with critical projects completed or nearing completion. Today, the people of Ile a Vache have access to more and better public services, including water, made possible by the government’s drilling of deep wells throughout the island.  As a result, we have already placed water fountains at Kaykok and fountain works are underway in the localities of Trou Milieu, La Hatte, Madame Bernard and Balerase.

The people of Ile a Vache are also now enjoying more, easier and safer means of transportation with 17 km of road improvements and the installation of 250 solar lamps in most of the villages public spaces and along main roads.

A new airport, scheduled for completion in November 2015, is progressing. We are building seaports at Madame Bernard, the capital of the island, as well as at Kaykok, facilitating bi-directional transportation and increasing efficiencies for island fisherman.

Contrary to unfounded criticisms of this project, before breaking ground, we conducted a biodiversity study throughout the island to guide decisions. All major construction projects are based on environmental impact studies conducted by experts.

In consideration of the island’s environment, a mangrove rehabilitation project is underway.  To date, over 250,000 seedlings have been planted, fortifying the management capacity of local resource users and creating an estimated 600 temporary jobs through 2014.

We are enhancing the island’s main agricultural economy, through agro-fruit farms, increasing the production of pineapple, guava, avocados, mangoes and other tropical produce for local consumption and export. There are projects for poultry, and greenhouse gardening, and projects advancing fisheries and aquaculture.

Social assistance programs developed by the government are firmly in place in Ile a Vache helping to mitigate poverty and boost self-sufficiency.

Schools in the Kaykok, Madame Bernard and East Point localities are being renovated, and we are adding adult literacy programs.

A new community center recently built by the Government in Kaykok is currently training one hundred young people in photography, painting, percussion and other arts. Beginning in November 2014, the center will incorporate professional educational modules with the INFP institute, preparing 200 young people to enter the construction, computer trades, and hospitality.

The Ile a Vache Emergency Health Center is now under construction and will be completed by the end of this year with the aim to deliver quality healthcare and provide modern medical facilities to local families and visitors to the island while a fully equipped community hospital will be built in Madame Bernard by March 2015.

The new community radio station at Trou-Millieu, provides a central place of outreach and education for island residents.

The Government of Haiti is investing resources, time and effort to transform this beautiful island into a showcase of prosperous living as well as a centerpiece of Caribbean tourism. Despite allegations by critics, tourism development is proving to exert a positive impact on this island and its families. Already, hundreds of jobs have been generated for the local population, and hundreds more are projected, creating a more prosperous life and greater opportunities for every man, woman and child on this beautiful island.

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