Back to Business as Usual for Tourism in Haiti and the Dominican Republic?
01/21/2010 - 16:28 ||
Many areas of northern Haiti and all of the Dominican Republic seem to have remained relatively unaffected by the turmoil that has destroyed the capital city of Port Au Prince in Haiti. Royal Caribbean was the first to dock a cruise ship at the northern port of Labadee in Haiti since last week's devastating earthquake and now other luxury liners are following suit. In the Dominican Republic, the tourists are still lined up at the bars, sipping on rum drinks and playing water sports.
How can business go back to usual so quickly? Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein defended his company's actions, writing on his blog, "Being on the island and generating economic activity for the straw market vendors, the hair-braiders and our 230 employees helps with relief, while being somewhere else does not help." Goldstein also told Fox Business News, "When the captain of the Independence of the Seas (the first ship back to Haiti) informed the guests that we were going to go to Haiti he got a standing ovation. The overwhelming majority of the guests are comfortable with what is going on, pleased with the relief efforts, and happy to contribute through their activities on the land there."
In Puerto Plata, on beautiful Playa Dorada in the DR, tourists shared their misgivings, but didn't stop enjoying their island vacations. "You kind of feel sick about it," Debbie Rattai, 44, who was on vacation from Canada told the NY Daily News. "It's surreal. You are on the same island. Here they are still treating us like it doesn't affect us."
"We could be a million miles away from there," Jerri Karb, 67, said. "I really thought we'd be encountering people taking up collections. I would give."
Royal Caribbean has donated a million dollars to the relief efforts and is bringing emergency aid like rice, beans and water with every ship that docks. "This effort is going to be a marathon," said VP John Weiss, "So we will be partnering with Food For The Poor on the back-end distribution in Haiti."