Above: the Wahoo Bay Beach resort in Haiti
By Alexander Britell
It’s one of the logical next steps as Haiti looks to reposition itself as a major Caribbean tourism destination: attracting spring breakers.
A new partnership between US-based BrandHaiti and Haiti’s Wahoo Bay Beach Resort will bring a group of students to Haiti in March for week-long spring break vacations.
BrandHaiti is a student-led non-profit business marketing organization that “re-brands Haiti’s negative image through highlighting the country’s strengths and comparative advantages” to foster pro-Haitian business investment, according to its Web site.
“It’s recreating a positive image [of Haiti], not the one that there is now,” said Stephane Fouche, a junior at Harvard College who is organizing the BrandHaiti Spring Break Team. “Tourism is something we see as a possible way to take the full potential of that,” he said.
Above: Wahoo Bay
BrandHaiti was created in 2010 with support from the Institute of Global Leadership at Tufts University, and has chapters at a number of US colleges, including Harvard and Cornell.
But unlike programmes like Alternative Spring Break, the programme is not about coming to Haiti solely for community service or voluntourism — it’s about actually spending a vacation in the country akin to those in traditional spring break destinations like the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic — from excursions to Jacmel and Port-au-Prince to poolside time at Wahoo Bay, which is located in Cotes-des-Arcadins.
“This project we have is to create sustainable spring break trip to Haiti,” Fouche said. “It’s to give another image of Haiti, that it’s not just a place to do community service — you can also go there and have fun.”
According to marketing materials, the packages will run around $1,000, including airfare, for the week, although that number could be pushed down to $800 as more students sign up. Also on tap will be additional options of trips to sites like Saut d’eau and Kay Piat.
But the goal is about more than just travel, Fouche said.
“The spring break is mainly tourism, but also at the same time it’s about investment,” he said. “It’s showing people that it’s a place where people can invest.”
Their initiative is the latest push to bring more North American tourists to the country, following the announcement last week that Canadian tour company Transat would be offering travel packages to Haiti.
“As you can see right now, hotels are getting built, Transat is offering packages,” he said. “We see it’s a niche that we can start investing in ourselves and in the future it will be something even bigger.”