Events and Tourism: The role of (Imagineering) Events in Local Community self-actualisation in small territories. The case of Haiti
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Events and Tourism: The role of (Imagineering) Events in Local Community self-actualisation in small territories. The case of Haiti

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Events are fast becoming a developing industry and their contribution towards the economy has been verified. Small islands developing states (SIDS) like Haiti (once the "Pearl of the Caribbean" is now ...

Events are fast becoming a developing industry and their contribution towards the economy has been verified. Small islands developing states (SIDS) like Haiti (once the "Pearl of the Caribbean" is now one of the poorest countries in the world) would benefit from its generating effects. For the moment, events taking place in Haiti are mainly designed and organised by the DMO to fulfil three particular roles: improve the image of the destination, attract visitors and in some extent, create a kind of community cohesion. Many academic papers have been written about the Haitian economic situation. One of the latest is the paper written by Junia Barreau (2012) entitled: "FDI: The difficult situation of Haiti". However, any academic paper has been written about event programmes as a potential way to sustain cultural and sporting activities in Haiti. This article aims to contribute to the body of meta-literature in this area by answering the following question: How can event programmes in Haiti be imagineered to maximise outputs for the local community?
Our article unfolds in four steps. First, we diagnose the disadvantages SIDS usually faces. Second, we analyse some of the key societal features of Haiti. Third, the paper builds on academic critical literature on Event (particularly Imagineering Events) to highlights areas of good practice and areas that need to be improved by the DMO in Haiti. Forth, we discuss the impacts of those (Imagineering) Events on the performance of the destination. We also aim in this paper to find out if (Imagineering) Events in Haiti can be adequate replacement to attractions and be a boost for the tourism industry.

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Events and Tourism: The role of (Imagineering) Events in Local Community self-actualisation in small territories. The case of Haiti Events and Tourism: The role of (Imagineering) Events in Local Community self-actualisation in small territories. The case of Haiti Document Transcript

  • Dr Hugues SERAPHIN Lecturer, Event Management (The University of Winchester) Associate researcher CREDDI-LEAD EA 2438 GUYANE (Université des Antilles Guyane) The University of Winchester, Faculty of Business, Law and Sport West Downs Campus, Winchester, SO22 4NR (England) hugues.seraphin@winchester.ac.uk Mobile: 0044 7878425783 Emma Nolan Programme Leader Event Management The University of Winchester, Faculty of Business, Law and Sport West Downs Campus, Winchester, SO22 4NR (England) emma.nolan@winchester.ac.uk 1
  • EVENTS AND TOURISM: THE ROLE OF (IMAGINEERING) EVENTS IN LOCAL COMMUNITY SELF-ACTUALISATION IN SMALL TERRITORIES. THE CASE OF HAITI Abstract Events are fast becoming a developing industry and their contribution towards the economy has been verified. Small islands developing states (SIDS) like Haiti (once the „Pearl of the Caribbean‟ is now one of the poorest countries in the world) would benefit from its generating effects. For the moment, events taking place in Haiti are mainly designed and organised by the DMO to fulfil three particular roles: improve the image of the destination, attract visitors and in some extent, create a kind of community cohesion. Many academic papers have been written about the Haitian economic situation. One of the latest is the paper written by Junia Barreau (2012) entitled: „FDI: The difficult situation of Haiti‟. However, any academic paper has been written about event programmes as a potential way to sustain cultural and sporting activities in Haiti. This article aims to contribute to the body of meta-literature in this area by answering the following question: How can event programmes in Haiti be imagineered to maximise outputs for the local community? Our article unfolds in four steps. First, we diagnose the disadvantages SIDS usually faces. Second, we analyse some of the key societal features of Haiti. Third, the paper builds on academic critical literature on Event (particularly Imagineering Events) to highlights areas of good practice and areas that need to be improved by the DMO in Haiti. Forth, we discuss the impacts of those (Imagineering) Events on the performance of the destination. We also aim in this paper to find out if (Imagineering) Events in Haiti can be adequate replacement to attractions and be a boost for the tourism industry. Keywords Imagineering; self-actualisation; Small territories; Tourism; Haiti 2
  • EVENTS AND TOURISM: THE ROLE OF (IMAGINEERING) EVENTS IN LOCAL COMMUNITY SELF-ACTUALISATION IN SMALL TERRITORIES. THE CASE OF HAITI 1. Introduction Haiti was once a thriving state, the „Pearl of the Antilles‟, with a vibrant tourism industry much popularised by visiting international celebrities. By 1956 visitor numbers had risen to nearly 70,000 (Jules and Laplanche, 2006). In 1957 Francois Duvalier‟s dictatorship created a terrorised nation which devastated the country‟s tourism industry and despite the efforts of successive governments to revive it, by the time Jean-Bertrand Aristide became the country‟s first democratically elected president in 1990. Haiti had become the least visited country in the Caribbean (Charles, 1994). In 1995 the government, via the Secretariat d‟État au Tourisme (SET), announced a new strategy for the tourism industry, part of which was the plan to develop training and tourism courses and rehabilitate the city of Jacmel due to its strong colonial past, its architecture and its natural environment (Dupont, 2010). Despite the island‟s obvious need for a tourism strategy these renewed efforts were destroyed by Haiti‟s political and structural instability and vulnerability. Today Haiti is governed by President Michel Martelly who was elected in 2011. Martelly is also planning to stimulate the tourism industry by promoting the heritage of the island and restoring a safe environment to encourage visitors to return. Martelly‟s government has also attempted to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) but as this has more or less failed (Barreau, 2012) new strategies designed to develop entrepreneurial activity in the country are being introduced. This chapter will investigate how tourism, entrepreneurship and carefully imagineered events are the key to strengthening Haiti‟s fragile economy. It will diagnose the disadvantages small island developing states (SIDS) usually face and will analyse Haiti‟s key societal features. The role of the destination management organisation (DMO) will be discussed and the impacts of imagineered events on destination performance will be examined. Reference to „Bonjour Blanc, a journey through Haiti‟ will be made. This book is the tale of a life experience in Haiti and as such it has witness value and may be considered trustworthy (De Ascaniis and Grecco-Marasso, 2011). It also functions as a microcosm about life in Haiti and 3
  • provides detailed information concerning the tourism sector in the country with a clear emphasis on the hospitality sector. Tourism, hospitality and events are closely related, overlapping industries which is particularly evident if we accept the idea of designed (imagineered) events as „products‟ or „attractions‟ (Getz, 2012, p.146). Imagineered events are powerful tools and their benefits have been widely documented; they can unite communities, strengthen bonds, alter destination images and be a catalyst for change. Many academic papers have been written about the Haitian economic situation yet none have addressed the concept of event programmes as a potential way to sustain cultural and sporting activities in Haiti. Thus this chapter aims to contribute to the body of meta-literature in this area by answering the following question: how can event programmes in Haiti be imagineered to maximise outputs for the local community? 2. A diagnosis of the disadvantages SIDS (small island developing states) usually face The Caribbean, a region that is comprised mostly of developing countries, has benefited tremendously from the tourism industry. Between 1940e and 1960e Haiti was a thriving state and the most popular tourist destination in the Caribbean. As such it attracted an international jet set; Mick Jagger, Charles Addams and Jackie Kennedy were amongst those who popularised the country. Moreover Haiti was once the richest French colony and given the honorary title of the „Pearl of the Antilles‟. Today Haiti is one of the poorest and most dangerous countries on earth and as such has a low „touristicity‟ (Theodat, 2004). The country is also considered an unsafe destination due to its political instability (Thomson, 2004; Higate and Henry, 2009). Furthermore, Haiti, like many states with a post-colonial legacy, suffers from deficient security, law and order institutions, the use of violence by state and non-state personnel, a poor economic environment and the incapacity or the unwillingness of the government to provide basic services to the population. Internal factors have not been the only cause of state weakness. International interventions have also had negative effects on the country. Haiti has had little influence on the design of its own public policies and its economy is largely shaped by outside forces with power being in the hands of foreign institutions. In today‟s global economy, Haiti‟s main competitive advantages are its abundance of low-wage, unskilled workers and its proximity to the USA. 4
  • Haiti can therefore be classified as a vulnerable state as it is exposed to outside forces. But it is also a fragile state as its structure lacks the political will and capacity to provide the basic functions needed for poverty reduction, developing and safeguarding the security and human rights of the population, and failing to recognise and honour the social, political and economic pact between society and the state. The Haitian elite who control commerce, strategic imports, hotels, telecommunication and banks have often been accused of being an obstacle to the country‟s development. The classic role of the elite is usually one of investing in the country and generating economic activity, wealth, jobs and influencing the government to increase trade, promote productivity, ensure stability and protect investments. In Haiti the elite do not assume this role. Their basic activity is trade, with minor investments in preventing a crisis in the country. The weak governance and absence of accountability has facilitated the creation of parallel economies and patronage patterns (Gauthier & Moita, 2010). Consequently neither the public sector (the government) nor the private sector (the elite, local and international companies in Haiti) have done very much to encourage the sustainable development of the economy and therefore of the country. The new government established by Michel Marthély in 2011 seems to be more conscious of its responsibility. Haiti‟s past has meant it has been very difficult for the country to build and develop a sustainable form of economic development (Séraphin, 2010) however the current government in its endeavour to develop the economy is multiplying initiatives and has been aiming at attracting FDI. Despite these efforts and the support of the private sector in pushing forward these initiatives, the negative image of the country has made it very difficult for the government to attract foreign investors (Barreau, 2012). Thus the government has been forced to focus on alternative strategies and despite Haiti being widely branded as an unsecure destination (Higate and Henry, 2009) and as place where the worst is always likely to happen (Bonnet, 2010), the government has chosen to follow a path welltrodden by other SIDS and develop its tourism industry as a means to economic growth. The contributions of events to a successful tourism strategy are well documented as is their ability to encourage social cohesion thus imagineered events can add to the country‟s tourism offer and provide the Haitian government with additional tools to reunite a disbanded community. 5
  • 3. An analysis of the key societal features of Haiti Between the 1800‟s and 2009, the service sector moved from less than 5% to 60% of the GDP of Haiti. The move from the primary sector as being the main contributor to the country‟s economy to the service sector is mainly due to a change of activity of a huge part of the population. The service sector in Haiti can be described as follows: a) A sector mainly orientated toward services to the community (not services to businesses), with a large number of MSEs. In the rear country the service sector includes under its „umbrella‟: market sellers, grocers, retailers, etc. Much of the commerce is craftware and sometimes contraband whisky (Thomson, 2004, p.24). In general, the individuals involved in these types of businesses do not have any particular qualifications. In Haiti‟s cities and towns, the service industry includes restaurants such as „Café Napoli‟ described by Ian Thomson in „Bonjour Blanc, a journey through Haiti‟ (Thomson, 2004, p.24), hotels such as the Oloffson (Thomson, 2004, p.44) and cybercafés, pharmacies, etc. b) Businesses of the service sector are in general informal or unofficial meaning they do not abide by any laws (Lautier, 2004, p.24). This illegality is the norm in the sector in Haiti. This is what Hernando De Soto designated as the „extralegal norm‟ (De Soto, 2003). Because this sector operates in the „dark‟, it is very difficult to gather specific data about its performance. c) The sector is dominated by microenterprises with a low productivity as the owners of the businesses are generally very poor and uneducated. In Haiti the move from primary sector to service sector did not lead to an increase in income for the population or to improvements in their standard of living. Moreover because the service sector in Haiti is mainly geared toward service to the community and not toward companies, the income generated by this sector is not significant to the economy (Paul, Dameus & Garrabe,et al, 2009). The type of businesses developed by the Haitians in the service sector is only profitable at a microeconomic level and not a macroeconomic level. The tourism industry, as part of the service sector plays an important role in the economy of Haiti. It is the main source of income to the country (27.76% of the GDP) just ahead of agriculture (25.09% of the GDP) (Paul et al, 2010). In 2009 the whole primary sector did not contribute more than 23% of the GDP, whereas the service sector represented roughly 60% of the GDP (Paul et al, 2010). This is what Paul et al. (2010) refers to as the „tertiarization of the Haitian economy‟ in other words, an irreversible shift to the service sector as the key 6
  • contributor to the GDP. Furthermore the global development of the events industry is another effect of the move away from industrial products to service based economies (Bowdin et al, 2010, p.97) and thus an integrated tourism and events strategy will inevitably serve to strengthen Haiti‟s developing tourism industry This shift is not without its problems as currently Haiti has an estimated unemployment rate of between 70 and 80 per cent. The governments‟ recovery strategies include a focus on sectors that can provide employment opportunities for Haitians with basic job skills. Yet the food and beverage and hospitality sectors are still run at an amateur level and do not meet the requirements of international customers who are very demanding in terms of quality (Theodat, 2008). Demographic statistics provide the government with additional challenges as indicators suggest a very poor level of human development in Haiti: life expectancy (53 years), infant mortality (80%), maternal mortality (523 per 100,000 live births) and adult illiteracy (50%). The vulnerability of the Haitian population is very high with 65% of the population living below the poverty threshold (Roc, 2008). As the attempt of this government to attract FDI has more or less failed (Barreau, 2012) and the development of the service industries is also fraught with problems it has been suggested that encouraging entrepreneurial activity is the way forward (Séraphin 2012). The associated risk factors are numerous and very high because of Haiti‟s political instability and level of insecurity (Higate, Henry 2009) and there is no way to eliminate or reduce the risks (Drucker, 1985). Yet despite all these risks present in Haiti, Thomson (2004) believes that Haitians have the venture (products, service, sales, ideas, etc.). However they do not have the „business‟ that is to say a viable, operating, organised organisation and unless the venture develops into a new business, it will not survive (Drucker, 1985). The main issue in Haiti and other developing countries is that the strategy of so called entrepreneurs is a survival strategy (Mshenga & Owuor, 2010) meaning they have a short term vision instead of a long term one. Or as Bessant‟s and Tidds (2011) suggest, they (small and medium-sized enterprises) are inward looking, too busy fighting fires and deadlines of today‟s crises to worry about emerging storm clouds on the horizon. This will be a constant challenge for the Haitian government and the private sector. Both will have to be clear about: what they want to achieve and what needs to be done to achieve these objectives. When encouraging entrepreneurial activity, there are three potential outcomes to the newly established business: 7
  • either they are established but do not grow (a), grow slowly (b) and (c) ideally graduate to a larger size (Liedholm & Mead, 1999). The questions that need to be addressed are also: how can the government create the conditions in which to bread successful entrepreneurs and to maximise their potential? 4. Areas of good practise and areas for improvement by the DMO in Haiti One of the challenges the country has faced is that good practise has been hampered by the fact that so far Haiti has been led by „professional politicians‟ and not „presidents‟ with a genuine interest for the development of the country (Barreau, 2013). However in its Action Plan for National Recovery and Development of Haiti, the new government has identified tourism as a critical economic activity that can contribute to recovery (International Institute of Tourism Studies, 201). The tourism sector is at the base of many of the government‟s projects. The current Minister for Tourism, Stephanie Balmir-Villedrouin has already obtained support from the General Secretary of the World Travel Organisation (WTO), Mr Taleb Rifai; from some airlines such as Air Caraïibes; from some tour operators such as Nomade; from some tour guides such as Lonely Planet, and from many other public and private sector organisations. These encouraging developments have confirmed the long-term commitment of the Minister for Tourism to the development of Haiti. Moreover since the Port-au-Prince Declaration (2011) put forward the creation of small and micro enterprises (SMEs) as one of the seven key pillars for growth in the tourism industry in Haiti, the current tourism administration is signalling a readiness to experience new business models and in an effort to promote entrepreneurial activity as a key economic driver, the government is supporting the MEMA project which stands for Mon Enterprise, Mon Avenir (My Business, My Future). This is a Haitian business accelerator funded by the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund in order to develop entrepreneurship in Haiti. It emphasises the development of entrepreneurial activity as a means to develop the country. The MEMA project aims to help entrepreneurs by providing them with the required training, financial support (10,000 USD for each shortlisted applicant) and legal assistance to turn their venture into a financially profitable business. The MEMA project also aims to create institutions to support the new entrepreneurs via the creation of networks of businessmen and women; consultants, business angles, etc. Accepted projects can be in the following sectors: agro-industry; culture and hospitality or 8
  • corporate service. The sustainability, innovation and inclusivity of the projects are key criteria. The project must show some evidence of potential development in terms of job creation and income generation; it must bring something new to the country or make products or services available to a larger audience and must involve parts of the population with low income as suppliers, customers or retailers1. The MEMA project if properly implemented will contribute to one of the key roles of a DMO; to create networks within the destination and nurture the concept of a team approach to destination success (Davidson & Rogers, 2006). The initiative however is not without its flaws. Although it claims to be inclusive, if applicants are supposed to submit a comprehensive portfolio, the fact that 50% of the population of Haiti are illiterate and 65% of the same population live below the poverty threshold (Roc, 2008) means that it is unlikely that applicants will come from the lower classes. Instead the middle classes (the Haitian „Bourgeoisie‟) or even the „elite‟ are far more likely to apply. If the initiative is aimed at all parts of population and particularly the less fortunate, the government and the private sector need to rethink the „assessment method‟ as currently only a fraction of the population can produce and provide the required documentation. Successful initiatives may be viewed as contributing to self-actualisation within some social categories of the population; therefore it is important for the government and the financial market in Haiti to consider poorer Haitians running micro and small-scale enterprises as potential clients. Furthermore the liberalisation of the financial market in Haiti can help to maximise the positive impacts of entrepreneurial development programmes such as MEMA, particularly if the shortlisted candidates are poor. Financial sector modernisation in some developing countries has in recent years been pushed through so-called Microfinance Institutions (MFIs). They deliver credit to micro and small enterprises and contribute to poverty reduction by providing poor people with access to financial services (Van der Sterren, 2008). A wellfunctioning financial sector contributes positively to the level of economic growth and will have pro-poor effects only when the poor have access to credit and savings services provided by banks (Beck et al. 2004). We know that entrepreneurs in emerging markets rely heavily on informal sources of finance to start their business (Bygrave, 2003) and that limited personal and family savings and an absence of financial innovation severely limit the growth prospects of promising start-ups in developing countries (Lingelbach, De La Vina & Asel, P 1 http://memahaiti.org/ 9
  • 2005). Additionally the service industries in general benefit greatly from liberalised and open economies (Van der Sterren, 2008). The role of the DMO is to promote the long term development of a destination by leading a variety of tactical activities which include for instance monitoring service and quality standards (Copper & Hall, 2008). As Thomson (2004) suggests that locals still view Haiti as the „Pearl of the Antilles‟ while outsiders view it as the „Paris of the gutter‟, in terms of the country‟s external image, Haiti has a huge deficit that needs to be addressed. It is therefore very important for Haiti to take ownership or control of its image via a marketing strategy, as a strategic management approach for dealing with tourisms crises is the key to a speedy recovery (Hai & Chick, 2011). Imagineered events are key to this strategy as well designed events can alter or reinforce a destination‟s branding (Bowdin et al, 2010). One must consider Getz‟s (2012) argument that one-time events have a limited impact on destination image but he concurs that both one-time events and repeat events can enhance a tourism strategy. Understanding a country‟s external perception is key to the successful marketing of a destination. Few academic papers have been written about Haiti as a destination (Séraphin 2010 and 2011; Dore 2010, Thernil 2004; Theodat 2004; Dupont 2010). „Bonjour Blanc, a journey through Haiti‟ is one of the very few novels or travel writings about the destination. It is a tale of a life experience, it has witness value and thus it is trustworthy (De Ascaniis, Grecco-Marasso, 2011). Thus this key text is a marketing tool that can be used by the DMO to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the destination. The study of this travel writing may provide the DMO in Haiti important and specific results about the travellers‟ expectations, needs and interests. In general, DMOs are using a quantitative approach based on data to improve their products and services, but those data as De Ascaniis and GreffoMarasso argue (2011) do not tell the whole story about how visitors feel about the product. Thus it is not sufficient anymore to look at the destination as a whole; it is worth investigating what is precisely said about it and probably used travel writing as qualitative source of information. Key to the success of a DMO marketing strategy is understanding the destinations position in relation to the needs of the potential target market (Davidson and Rogers, 2006). 10
  • 5. Impacts of imagineered events on the performance of the destination If we accept that for now Haiti is unable to attract FDI, economic growth must be delivered from within the country. Economic growth derived from the performance of the destination is therefore utterly dependent on the Haitian community. It is well documented and accepted that planned events have the ability to improve communities: They provide the means to achieve a diverse range of social outcomes, including community cohesion, educational development, support for families and regional development (Bladen et al, 2012, p.379). Thus if the development of imagineered events can provide positive social outcomes for the Haitians, the performance of this revived community will increase. Therefore the government should consider a twofold event strategy; using imagineered events as part of a tourism strategy to attract inbound visitors and using imagineered events to achieve social outcomes that contribute to the performance of the community. If entrepreneurialism is the key to home grown economic growth, surely it can also be the key to crafting imagineered events that will build a cohesive community? Entrepreneurship plays a crucial role in social mobility (Casson, 1991) and has the ability to save the economy of a country (Louart, 1980). The MEMA project would seem to be open to event entrepreneurs who will imagineer events with cultural objectives. If the development of entrepreneurship in imagineered events could be a way to fully involve and benefit the local population, it will also enable a burgeoning event industry to account for a higher percentage of the GDP. It could be argued that thus far the Haitian‟s have not shown themselves to be entrepreneurs. They are not entrepreneurs because they do not create or innovate; their strategies are individual and short term. Moreover, their businesses are not operating with a strategy but as a need to survival (Van der Sterren, 2008). If at a microeconomic level they are profitable, they are far from being so at a macroeconomic level (Paul et al, 2010). Getz (2012, p.272) however argues that entrepreneurs are born and not made, are inherently creative and innovative and these are the very skills that are evident in event managers. Moreover, if we consider the views of Sahlman et al (1994) and Spinelli (2008), for whom entrepreneurship is all about the pursuit of opportunities and thinking entrepreneurially, the Haitians can be considered as entrepreneurs. Either way there is now a real opportunity to assess the 11
  • potential of entrepreneurship, tourism and imagineered events as part of Haiti‟s strategy to reduce poverty. The challenge for the public and private sectors is to turn all the selfemployed Haitians into real „entrepreneurs‟ in other words, innovators, i.e. a person that brings about change by means of new processes and/or products (Schumpeter, 1934). 6. Can imagineered events adequately replace attractions and boost the tourism industry? O‟Toole (2011, p.18) suggests that a programme of events and festivals are crucial to developing national pride in small developing countries in a post-colonial state of recovery. He goes on to give examples of adaptable DMO led strategies that combine events and tourism objectives and gives examples of how these have been successfully implemented in other countries. These provide both an overview and an insight into the complexities of such strategies and reinforce the notion that both tourism and events are interdependent. Furthermore in order for events and tourism to yield the maximum benefits to the community, the robustness of a country‟s infrastructure, notably transport systems, maintained buildings and a high level of governance, is essential. Hoerner (1993) asserts that road travel is the main means of transportation around Haiti for visitors and this is still the principal means of transport today. The Haitian transport system and more specifically public transport on the island do not seem to be organised and appear to be very dangerous. There are no traffic light and no street lights: “The road to Port-au-Prince was dimly lit: The only light came from the inside of houses” (Thomson, 2004, p.18). Furthermore there have been many incidents in Haiti as the result of a lack of transport regulations. For instance, in 1971 and 1986, two boats, the „Okelele‟ and the „Celie‟ sank due to having too many people on board. Thus, in order to adopt O‟Toole‟s framework, or indeed any of the many similar event or tourism strategies, the Haitian government must address the lack of transport regulations as a priority. O Toole‟s suggestion that the maintenance of buildings is integral to an event tourism strategy supports Bowdin et al‟s (2010, p.129) claim that attractions and events can be mutually beneficial; heritage sites, attractions and archaeological sites can develop event programmes to attract visitors and encourage longer stays in the destination. Furthermore 12
  • well designed events can showcase a destination‟s physical attributes (Bowdin et al, 2010, p.109). Although Thomson (2004) mentions few specific events in „Bonjour Blanc, a journey through Haiti‟ he does give a very detailed list of attractions in the country and additional places which appear to have huge potential to become tourist attractions, such as Habitation Madere, Alexandre Dumas‟ house (Thomson, 2004, p.89) and Habitation Bonodo (Thomson, 2004, p.89). Government investment in new or refurbished facilities is a prudent idea, as there is evidence of how this may enable a community to “realize a „quantum leap‟ in its tourism development” (Getz, 2012, p.160). Furthermore Bowdin et al (2010, p.119) suggest that event tourism is a particularly significant factor in the positive development of small communities. Haiti therefore has the potential to increase the number of inbound tourists and increase the length of their stay via a heritage events programme. Such a programme will also serve to build community cohesion through a shared celebration of cultural history. Should the DMO lead such a strategy, this in turn may help the post- colonial government tackle the greater problem of evidencing their dedication to good governance (O‟Toole, 2011, p.18). A lack of quality accommodation is another key weakness in Haiti‟s quest to develop an event tourism initiative. Commonly visitors arrive to the island expecting a high quality of service, disregarding the situation of the destination and their reaction is not always very pleasant (Cade, 2008). As Martin (2008) has pointed out, one or two unpleasant surprises can negatively impact the entire experience for some travellers. It is therefore very important for the strategist to make sure that the destination positioning strategy matches with visitors‟ expectations. In some cases, as with Haiti, this is very difficult for the destination because of their lack of political, economic, social, technological development to meet the needs of visitors. Improving the number of guest houses in Haiti may be the start to solving this and a number of other current problems including the need to reduce the number of shanty areas around Port-au-Prince and the need to encourage the return of those who left the capital after the earthquake. Lewis (1998) and Pelligrino (2000) explain that locals only migrate to cities in their quest to improve their quality of life moreover economic opportunities from tourism development encourage natives to return to their homes and non-natives to seize this opportunity to establish themselves in local areas (Paviagua, 2002). Furthermore as the business of running countryside guest houses relies heavily on the natural environment, developing this type of business should also encourage the locals to take greater care of their environment and reforest the countryside. 13
  • The lack of opportunity for entrepreneurial activity in Haiti is clear; limited access to funds and high levels of illiteracy being key issues. However if the MEMA project can be reviewed to support disadvantaged Haitians with their applications, there is scope here for locals to submit proposals to develop guest houses. As hospitality based projects are sought, herein lies a solution to the current lack of visitor accommodation as guest houses involve a low cost investment due to the fact that they are converted homes. Moreover, by staying in guest houses tourists are guaranteed to get „authenticity‟ as opposed to a staged performance as described by Thomson (2004). The guest house option also has the advantage of tying each Haitian family to the events and tourism sectors and to the broader economy. Thus ensuring that the population recognizes how important they can be to the country‟s economic development (Edmunds, 2012). Addressing the lack of support for entrepreneurial activity and a lack of suitable visitor accommodation will be a huge step towards achieving event tourism objectives. The next step is to develop imagineered events that do not necessarily replace attractions but enhance them and in turn support the success of hospitality based businesses Ferdinand and Kitchin (2012). Carefully imagineered events will also promote community cohesion and thus contribute to the Haitians achieving self-actualisation. Therefore it can be argued that event programmes can be imagineered to maximise outputs for the local community. 7. Conclusion Haiti is one of the less visited Caribbean islands for three main reasons; political instability, the climate of insecurity and last but not least, the lack of facilities for tourists. Thus the challenge of redeveloping Haiti‟s „touristicity‟ (Theodat, 2004) presents the Haitian government with a mammoth task. In order to tackle this challenge the government needs to maximise the benefits of the country‟s tourism, hospitality and event sectors and simultaneously invest in transport and venue infrastructure. Given the lack of FDI opportunities, the government must continue to support strategies which aim to develop Haiti‟s tourism, hospitality and events potential via entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurship plays an important role in economic growth, innovation and in poverty alleviation (Landes, 1998) and although entrepreneurial activity may be considered risky, risk taking is fundamental to the entrepreneur‟s success (Bowdin et al, 2010). 14
  • In addition to supporting entrepreneurial activity, the government must maintain and develop their role as DMO in order to deliver a co-ordinated and strategic approach to event tourism that is aligned with the destination‟s tourism strategy. This will be the most effective way of garnering significant outputs for the community (Bowdin et al, p120). Tourism as a product is an „amalgam‟ of destination elements including attractions; supporting services such as accommodation, food and beverages and transportation (Cooper & Hall, 2008). Therefore the government as DMO must invest in developing the product by introducing safe transport systems, updating heritage attractions and improving the number of authentic, quality guest houses. The government must also begin to address Haiti‟s image as an undesirable destination. Although the contribution of events to the image destination is difficult to measure, the cobranding of events and destination has the potential to reinforce positive images (Getz, 2012, p.158) and the imagineered event as a product may be viewed as synonymous with the destination. Improvements to a destinations image that in turn lead to economic development, can result in an enhanced political image (Masterman, 2009) and will contribute to developing, and essential, trust between the community and the new Haitian government. Although the Haitian government has major issues to address including tackling low literacy and high mortality rates, developing hospitality, tourism and event outputs are key to the country‟s economic growth. Carefully designed, or imagineered, events have a key role to play in Haiti‟s long-term cohesion and economic development and will contribute to the DMO‟s tourism strategy. In time this developing tourism industry will provide a wide range of opportunities for foreign investment (Mshenga & Owuor, 2009). So although the people of Haiti face many challenges, there are currently many opportunities for home grown or initiated community development and economic growth. Haiti is one of the poorest countries on earth but with great poverty comes great necessity, resulting in high rates of entrepreneurial activity (Reynolds, 2001). Tourism, events, hospitality and entrepreneurship seem to be a suitable recipe for the development of a cohesive community and long term economic stability. The development of the tourism and events sector and the development of Haiti as a whole might come from the masses, it certainly will not come from the „elite‟ who the former Prime Minster, Michele Pierre-Louis once compared to an „elephant sitting on Haiti‟ (Gauthier & Moita, 2010). Nonetheless the 15
  • poor have the most to gain from entrepreneurial activity, as Manyara and Jones (2005) explain; it is only through small enterprises that rural people can participate in tourism. Finally, while some of Haiti‟s Caribbean competitors are showing signs of an almost saturated tourism offer, Haiti has a master card to play, namely its authenticity. Haiti is one of the last untouched territories of the Caribbean and with careful planning the government in its role as DMO, with the support of local entrepreneurs, can develop the country‟s tourism offer. Furthermore as part of this strategy the use of imagineered events will maximise outputs for the local community and in time will contribute to the restoration of Haiti‟s status as the „Pearl of the Antilles‟. 16
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