In January, it’ll be two years since Haiti suffered the ravages of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake. Life there since has not been easy—some 1.5 million Haitians still live in tents, daily routines, health, and education are still impacted by severe lack of infrastructure, and tourism has all but evaporated. As of today, there are only 500 hotel rooms in the Caribbean country's capital city. But that’s about to change.
This week, Marriott International made a joint announcement with the Clinton Foundation and investment partner Digicel, the region’s biggest mobile phone provider, that it’s investing $45 million in a new 173-room resort—the Port-au-Prince Marriott Hotel—on the Gulf of Gonave, and plans to open the doors mid-2014.
This is big news for a few reasons—it’s the first hotel to open since the earthquake and truly international hotel group to build on the island, paving the way for others to follow. And, the local economy will get an ongoing and much-needed injection. After construction, the property will employ some 175 Haitians, roll-out a hospitality training program for locals, and attract untold numbers of tourism dollars to the island.
And this is truly a joint effort: Digicel is actually the largest private investor in Haiti at the moment, and to date it's built more than 70 schools.
“Haiti is in great need of quality hotels today, and for the foreseeable future," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and chief operating officer at the press conference earlier this week.
"We believe we can make a difference in Haiti by injecting capital, creating jobs and developing the human talent that can help lift this country over time back to its rightful place as one of the top destinations in the Caribbean."
Haiti is, officially, open for travel business.
Adrien Glover is the deputy digital editor at Travel + Leisure.