Paul Clammer: Is Haiti The Caribbean’s Best New Destination?

cropped-citadelle_laferriere_2.jpgHaiti has been here before. In the late 1940s and 50s, tourists began to flock to Port-au-Prince. The city’s waterfront area was redeveloped as part of the city’s bicentenary and American cruise ship passengers could walk from the docks to the famous Moorish-styled Iron Market to buy Haitian art and mahogany. In the evenings they would dance and gamble in waterfront clubs or watch a pre-packaged “Voodoo” show. The more rarefied followed the likes of Truman Capote and Noel Coward to the gingerbread Hotel Oloffson, later immortalized in Graham Greene’s The Comedians.

That novel painted the dark night of the rule of Francois “Papa Doc,” which snuffed out Haiti’s first brief tourist boom. Holidaymakers returned in the 1970s, when his son Jean-Claude took the reigns of power. Package tourists flocked to the country’s new beach resorts; Bill and Hillary Clinton honeymooned here. For some people, a Haitian holiday was a byword for licentiousness – sex tourism, shotgun weddings, quickie divorces — but the country’s proximity to the USA made the place a hot attraction until the regime fell in 1986.. via Paul Clammer



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