ST-EP project in Jacmel, Haiti, building capacities for sustainable tourism development
In Haiti, UNWTO is collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism to implement a project on enhancing the local economic impact from tourism in Jacmel, an attractive coastal destination in the South-East of the country. The project is implemented with financial support from the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation; and the UNWTO Themis Foundation has fielded a long term mission of a UNWTO volunteer to Jacmel to assist with the planning and implementation of project activities.
The project aims to strengthen the participation of the local population in the tourism value chain in Jacmel and surroundings by enhancing local employment and diversifying tourism products and services offered locally. The project has a strong focus on capacity building in order to enable local people to obtain skills and experiences required to benefit from employment and income generating opportunities in the tourism sector. It also aims to support beneficiaries through providing necessary materials to run small tourism businesses, such as computers or furniture.
From the beginning of 2015, a four months’ in-depth training course was organized for 7 young local guides, addressing aspects as marketing, communication, personal development, business management, cultural and natural heritage, security and hygiene, and professional tourguide skills.
As a result the guides have developed several unique excursions to bring visitors closer to the culture, gastronomy, history and nature of Haiti, facilitating interaction and creating mutual understanding between tourists and local communities. The training included support to set up their own private tourguide company. The company has created a Facebook page, (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Experience-Jacmel/1540409036219503), and a website will soon be available (www.experiencejacmel.com).
Special efforts are made to develop a “coffee route”, offering tourists the possibility to visit coffee farms in the hills near Jacmel, while enjoying the lush and fresh environment. The excursion explains visitors the history of the Haitian coffee and its importance for the mountain communities. The tour through the coffee forests shows how the coffee beans are organically grown and gives visitors the chance to taste the coffee. Capacity building in areas as customer care, serving a table and basic guiding skills are also provided.
Further, a three days’ training workshop was delivered on food production and hygiene with the participation of 48 local food vendors, who offer meals to visitors at the most popular local beach in Jacmel. The workshop was highly appreciated, with recommendations made to use it as a starting point to develop a food certification process to be managed by the Government.
The project will further carry out activities at Etang Bossier, an eye-catching small lake, hidden in the green hills surrouding Jacmel, to support local people to improve the visitor offer, create income generating opportunities and help conserve the natural area. Visitor facilities at the lake, including a tourist information centre, toilets, a small barbecue restaurant and a local handicraft shop will be constructed.
Other efforts to make the area more attractive include the renovation of the 18th century sugarcane mill, still in use by the community, where visitors can see how sugarcane syrup is made and have the possibility to taste and buy the product; as well as a walking path around the lake, where landscaping volunteers from the Louisiana University (USA) will help to design a pleasant atmosphere to rest, walk and relax. Awareness raising seminars will be organized for the local population at Etang Bossier to create in-depth understanding in the functioning of the tourism sector and its income generating opportunities. Special training will be provided to handicraft producers living near the lake, specifically by using and replanting the “vetiver” bunch grasses that grow in the area to make souvenirs for tourists. A small waste management centre will be constructed, and a reforestation plan will be developed to recover many tree species, and help increase local income sources from selling fruits and nuts, such as mango, citrus and cashew.
The project activities are all planned and implemented in close consultation and collaboration with the regional tourism office of South East Haiti, who plays an active role in promoting the destination, including the different new local products developed.