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Haiti cruise terminal

Haiti’s new cruise terminal in doubt

Haiti’s reconstruction plans following the devastating earthquake in 2010 were significantly bolstered by the announcement in July 2014 that Carnival Corporation was all set to begin work on a second cruise terminal in the country. It was to be located at Pointe-Ouest on Tortuga Island in the north of the country.

However, there are now doubts over the legality of the memorandum of understanding that was signed between Carnival and the government, because of a previous agreement reached by a former government way back in 1970, granting a 99-year concession to Texas businessman Don Pierson to create a free port on the site.

Royal Caribbean has operated a private port at Labadde, on the north coast, exclusively since 1986. It was leased to the company as a private resort until 2050 and contributes a large part of Haiti’s tourist revenue. It employs about 300 local people, with several hundred more running stalls and kiosks on the site.

Vessels up to Oasis class can berth at the terminal, which was upgraded by Royal Caribbean in 2009 at a cost of US$ 55 million. Cruise visits continued after the 2010 earthquake, with Royal Caribbean donating US$ 1 million to the relief fund and using its cruise ships to bring in supplies and personnel.

It was hoped Carnival’s investment in the country’s second cruise terminal would provide a comparable economic boost. With tourism trends indicating that Haiti has the biggest growth rate in tourist arrivals in the Caribbean, the project held out hope for many on the island in the battle against poverty.

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