Carnival Cruise Lines Plans to Build Cruise Port at Ile de la Tortue

  • Posted on: 6 August 2014
  • By: Bryan Schaaf

Below is an article by David McFadden (Associated Press) concerning the planned development of a port on the Ile de la Tortue north of Port de Paix.  The island, poorer than most other parts of Haiti, would certainly benefit from the jobs that could potentially come with the port.  The main livelihood opportunities at present involve drug smuggling and construction of boats for fishing and/or smuggling.  This, along with international flights, opens up new possibilities for tourism in northern Haiti.

 

 

BY DAVID MCFADDEN

ASSOCIATED PRESS

 

A major Florida-based cruise line has signed a letter of intent to develop a new port on an isolated Haitian barrier island that has long been a major launching spot for smugglers, authorities said Monday.  Carnival Corp., the parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines, said it signed a memorandum of understanding last week with the Haitian government for a cruise port on Ile de la Tortue off Haiti's north coast.  In a statement emailed Monday, Carnival said the development would create a "tremendous economic impact" for Haitians while also carving out a new spot for ship itineraries in the Caribbean, the globe's No. 1 cruise destination. "The development will create an exciting opportunity for our guests to enjoy a new, secluded and stunning destination," said David Candib, a vice president for Miami-based Carnival. In a recent tweet, Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe said the initial investment on Ile de la Tortue will be $70 million.

 

Because of its remoteness, the mountainous island has long been a center for smugglers to organize dangerous sea journeys for poor migrants seeking a better life in the United States and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Ile de la Tortue, also known as Tortuga Island, is 11 miles (19 kilometers) across cobalt waters from hardscrabble Baie des Moustiques.  The cactus-studded area's poverty stands out even in Haiti. Ile de la Tortue, where the shores are lined with wooden boats of smugglers and subsistence fishermen, has some of the poorest people in the hemisphere's most impoverished country.  In February, Lamothe said officials had begun a program to improve opportunities, in part by paving the way for seven restaurants and by creating 1,000 jobs through a sanitation program. Farmers received free seeds and the national police force was to send some 30 officers to crack down on illegal migration.

 

Carnival said the company's new port would "directly or indirectly" employ more than 900 people. The development would compete with Royal Caribbean's fenced-in Labadee cruise port and beach attraction, also on Haiti's north coast. A local government representative on Ile de la Tortue said residents were excited by the prospect of foreign investment. "A tourist port will bring work to La Tortue," Sagesse Loriston Fils said in a phone interview. "But they need to come and talk to the community, get the community involved."  Not everyone is convinced a new cruise port would be a good deal for Haiti. Jim Walker, a Miami maritime attorney and author of a blog called www.cruiselaw.com , said in an email that his concern is that Carnival will be "sailing back with all of the profits to Miami."  Trade groups say the cruise ship industry injects about $2 billion a year into the economies of the Caribbean. But critics complain it actually produces little local revenue because the cruise companies and international chain shops on piers siphon away most of the spending. Earlier this year, Lamothe announced ambitious plans to transform the southern outlying island of Ile-a-Vache into a high-end resort with condos, spas and its own international airport. The $260 million project being built with a combination of foreign aid and private investment is scheduled to be completed in two years.

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Associated Press
By DAVID McFADDEN
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COTES-DE-FER, Haiti — Off this sleepy southern Haitian village, fishermen in weathered wooden boats slowly move across azure waters. Miles of picture-perfect sandy beaches slope gently, fringed by grasses and framed by mountains. In any other Caribbean country, such a pristine stretch of shore would have been developed long ago. But in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, the tranquil Cotes-de-Fer area is mostly uninhabited, holding just a scattering of shacks lit by candles, with little to do apart from fishing or working the sunbaked soil. Things may be changing radically, however. President Michel Martelly’s administration wants to build Haiti’s biggest tourism development here, hoping that foreign visitors can help spur an economic revival in the nation of 10 million, where most adults lack any kind of steady work and survive on less than $2 a day.
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So far there are only tentative signs of the hoped-for boom in Cotes-de-Fer. Dirt access roads have been widened with the help of Taiwan and Venezuela, and locals hope they will soon be paved. The government is refurbishing the fishing village and training tourist police as it tries to line up investors for a country enjoying a period of relative tranquillity after years of turmoil. “We know it’s a huge task, and it won’t be easy, but this is one chance that Haiti cannot miss. We’ve been at the bottom of the ladder for too long,” Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe told The Associated Press as he visited Cotes-de-Fer. A master plan for the area promises tax-free investments for 15 years in a development that could eventually cover about 5,680 acres, with up to 20,000 hotel rooms and condos. The first phase would cost nearly $48 million, with 1,266 rooms in four hotels and 1,133 tourist residences, an 18-hole golf course, and a beach club by 2017. A small airport would be built nearby.
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Officials hope it will become Haiti’s version of Punta Cana, a major resort town carved out of a fishing village in the neighboring Dominican Republic in the 1970s. Grupo PuntaCana, which operates the Dominican resort, has assisted Haiti with developing its plans. The $266 million project would be the biggest ever in Haiti, which is recovering from a devastating 2010 earthquake that shattered the crowded capital, Port-au-Prince, and surrounding areas. The broader tourism push includes development of the southern island of Ile-a-Vache. Plans there call for a resort with roughly 2,500 rooms and its own international airport. Dredging to accommodate supply ships is nearing completion, and the site for a future airport is being graded. Haiti also has signed a memorandum of understanding with Carnival Corp. to develop a $70 million cruise port on Ile de la Tortue, an island off the north coast long known as a departure point for smugglers. For now, the vast majority of tourists are cruise ship passengers who never leave Labadee, Royal Caribbean’s fenced-in port and beach attraction in northern Haiti. In Cotes-de-Fer, the possibility of a tourism boom is being welcomed by many, especially young people eager for opportunities.

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