Bill Clinton promotes tourism in Haiti


CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti — Former US president Bill Clinton, visiting Haiti in his capacity as a United Nations special envoy, wrapped up a two-day trip with a call for tourists to visit the Caribbean country.

“I love this place. It’s wonderful. I see the potential,” he said as he visited Cap-Haitien, on the country’s north coast.

With infrastructure improvement, such as better roads, visitors from the United States and elsewhere would be able to experience what Haiti has to offer, he added.

Haitian children would benefit too, he added, by being able to “learn about the greatness of their country’s history.”

Clinton, who was appointed in June to serve as a special envoy for United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, has been visiting Haiti in a bid to boost investments in the Americas’ poorest nation.

He called on Haiti’s government to build a national airport in the north of the country, home to most of the nation’s touristic and historic sights.

Clinton noted the success of Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola — the Dominican Republic — which attracts around two million tourists a year.

He encouraged Haiti to carefully preserve its monuments and historic sites, while working to protect the country’s environment.

Haiti has been devastated by unchecked deforestation for charcoal production, leaving the nation with less than two percent vegetation coverage.

Clinton was named special UN envoy with a mandate to mobilize international donors to contribute to Haiti, which was ravaged by storms in 2008 and has an employment rate of 70 percent.

On Thursday, Clinton hosted a meeting of more than 200 potential investors from throughout the Americas, telling them it was a moment of “great opportunity” for foreign investment in Haiti.

“I can tell you the political risk in Haiti is lower that it has ever been in my lifetime,” the former president said, adding that he and the Haitian government would work to accommodate any requests by investors.

The former president is hugely popular with many Haitians, and has found himself met by cheering crowds during his travels in the country.