Labadee, Haiti: Vacationing after a disaster

Vacationers at Labadee, Haiti

How do you relax on a white sand beach when you know hundreds of thousands of people are suffering just one hundred kilometers away? That is the question facing many Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise passengers.

Cruise lines have begun to port back into the private beaches of Labadee, Haiti and the move has hit a nerve among some people. Here’s my answer to them: so what? What does proximity have to do with a moral decision on having fun. What is the difference between having fun at home and having fun in Haiti? Because it’s rubbing our noses into their misery with our wealth? No, removing yourself from the tourism industry of a struggling economy is hurting it even more. These people live off of tourists’ money. By choosing not to go, you could make someone’s already difficult livelihood even more difficult. So inject some cash into the local economy and think of how much more good it does than you sitting at home or vacationing somewhere else.

According to Leslie Voltaire, Haiti’s special envoy to the UN, Haiti wants tourists to be in Labadee. “We welcome the continuation of the positive economic benefits that the cruise ship calls to Labadee contribute to our country,” states Voltaire. It was like that after 9/11 and the 2004 tsunami. These natural disasters already crippled other infrastructures and industries. If they’re ready for tourists, go to it and help them rebuild their tourism.

Thoughts? Comments? Am I right or am I a sicko?

Parting Words

From my travels into different parts of Southeast Asia, I really saw the difference between popular tourism spots and those off the beaten track. Vang Vieng, Laos has so many restaurants and guesthouses, which bring in loads of tourism dollars. Compare that to the small villages while traveling through the north. Although, with money comes the weary attitudes towards tourists, which is one reason I loathe Siem Reap.

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About the Author

John is always trying to find his way back to the road. He has an affinity for Germany due to his three years studying German at Cal, and a year working as an intern in the Stuttgart area. He also likes chocolate cake and good cheese.