Although I have never used the #thisisHaiti hashtag, I am also a fan of showing that my country isn’t just what you see in the media.
With that said, I do think that one cannot forget that Haiti isn’t just the beautiful photos we love to show on Instagram; and that alone is not enough to help change its image.
I agree and understand the international media & “diplomatic/international” community tend to portray us on a very negative light and often an unfair one. For example, the international media have emphasized Haiti’s horrible crime rates which in reality are very dismal compared to its neighboring tourism powerhouses. But hey, that’s the price you pay when the biggest American hotels aren’t on your shores making profits.
Yes, to draw tourists, we need to draw away from the pictures of devastation, and misery. Some say Haiti has huge economic potential, and the first step in rising the economic tide is heavily related to tourism. The blueprint to prosperity seems to be the good old formula: income generating > tax revenues > economic development model. (disclaimer: forgive me, not an economist, may have oversimplified things)
But the movement we are hoping to achieve via the social media channels, or even with tourism TV ads will never go anywhere if it isn’t addressing bigger things, you know like:
– achieving political stability
– rebuilding our very weak infrastructures
– training a mostly uneducated labor force, and providing education/vocational opportunities to our “labor force”
Without all of the above, tourism is just a dream. Having tourism as a primary source of revenue also brings a whole flux of externalities that Haiti may not be adequately prepared to address. For instance:
- Tourism depends on an external forces that are sensitive not just to political stability but also to the climate and a lot of other factors. For example, even better infrastructures may not be enough to prepare us for what the climate-change-ridden nature has in store for us.
- The tourism industry could also exacerbate our issues with prostitution, human and child trafficking, and many more unless accompanied by a comprehensive social reform, a stronger law enforcement and a more reliable judicial system.
- I’m guessing the industry will also depend on mostly huge American hotel chains, which means most profits will be repatriated back to Uncle Sam.
Besides, our #thisisHaiti movement may show some of our beautiful places but Haiti isn’t just our beautiful waterfalls, beaches and sometimes forested mountains. In fact, what makes Haiti, like any country, is its people:
- are mostly uneducated, poor, and have no voice
- include politicians, 99.9% of whom really give absolutely zero concern for the country – strictly personal interests, 100% corrupt – no room for patriotism – and 100% of whom when accused of corruption are more insulted of being called out than of actually being corrupt #sharapovastyle
- include an “educated” economic elite minority who enjoys living in a neo-colonist state of mind, but still suffers, maybe not as much as the rest of the country, but definitely still suffers a lot from the status quo.
- include a class of NGO- messiah complexed- “hope for haiti” designed t-shirt wearing “experts “- headed by none but the Clintons themselves. Yes you are part of Haiti too. #goHillary
- include a former head of state who:
- may or may not compare himself to the likes of Obama-cool & maybe even Obama-cares
- who while in power, enjoyed insulting the press & anything female,
- who surrounded himself with members of the golden era of tyranny.
- Who revived an army because yes that’s what we needed first and foremost in our laundry list of issues.
- Who definitely pats himself in the back for a job well done – never mind the high inflation and worsening of the economy
- Might even run for the next election round, constitutional-rules-be-damned.
- Loves “dissing back”, through what he does best, governing, sorry, singing vulgar songs
- a class of Haitian professionals and even some foreigners who truly care to help the country in a sustainable way but aren’t a government and cannot implement big scale change without it
Solving the problem of Haiti’s image and tourism industry will take more than pretty photos. It needs to start with admitting we have challenges that beautiful images alone cannot change. Changing the image of the country should also involve political stability, social, educational and deep structural reform.
Just in case you didn’t know, this was a Haitian rant, one:
- Full of passion.
- that highlights some of the many challenges Haiti faces
- May or may not bring up solutions to face the challenges
- Most likely will not be translated into action
- Will remain a rant on the virtual realm