Saturday, January 16, 2010

Trade Urged to Back Haiti Fundraising Mission

By Gemma Greenwood

The travel trade is being urged to support a number of initiatives designed to support Haiti in the country’s hour of need.

Haiti-born Jean-Marc Flambert, director of Your Tourism Partner and former head of the Sri Lankan Tourism Board, has already put together an action plan to help his country following Tuesday’s catastrophic earthquake and is hoping the industry will get behind it.

“The message to tour operators and travel agents is to keep selling the Dominican Republic which hasn’t been impacted [by the quake] and to sell excursions to Haiti,” said Flambert.

“This can be done immediately – we cannot have cancellations to the Dominican Republic.”

The next step, he said, was for the trade to back fundraising initiatives – one of which he hopes will be up-and-running next week after he meets with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and the ANTO on Monday.

This involves purchasing the indigenous art for which Haiti is famous and organising online auctions with the customers of agents and operators to raise money.

“We are not asking for donations, because there is not an affinity with Haiti in the UK – not many tourists go there – but we are hoping the trade will back initiatives that will give sustainable income to the Haitians,” said Flambert.

One of his hopes, he revealed, was that every tour operator purchased a piece of Haitian art so that it would keep the country front of mind when looking at new Caribbean destinations or excursions to add to their brochures. “My aim is to bring Haiti to the UK,” he said.

The Dominican Republic’s UK spokeswoman, Esther Smith, told TTG that the tourism board was calling on ground operators in the Dominican Republic to sell day trips to Haiti to boost the island nation’s income and support re-development.

“But that can’t be done until the roads are back open, so in the meantime, the hotels, which employ a lot of Haitian people, are promoting the art work [to tourists] and supporting the families of their employees,” she added.

To find out how you can help, call Flambert on 07930 332659 or email

Source: TTGLive

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