Haiti earthquake fails to deter hotel boom

The U.S. State Department travel advisory continues to warn Haiti-bound Americans about violent crime, infectious diseases and substandard medical facilities, but this hasn’t stopped several large tourism projects are proceeding as planned in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

That coincides with JetBlue’s May 9 announcement that it would begin flying to Port-au-Prince with daily nonstop service from New York JFK and twice-daily service from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood to the capital’s Toussaint L’ouverture International Airport. JetBlue’s flights should begin Dec. 5, 2013, subject to government approval.

Haitian hotelHaiti: El Rancho Hotel in Petionville is considered one of Haiti’s best hotel properties. (Larry Luxner)

In late April, the Haitian government announced it would rename the chief airport serving northern Haiti in memory of former Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who died of cancer in March.

Cap-Haitïen International Airport — now Hugo Chávez International Airport — has a 17,500-foot runway that was repaved last October with a loan from the Venezuelan government. Following the January 2010 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 people, the Chávez government pledged $1.2 billion in aid to Haiti.

Haitian viewHaiti: Aerial view of upscale resorts along Haiti’s Caribbean coast. (Larry Luxner) 

Meanwhile, Spain’s Occidental Hotels & Resorts has opened the five-star Royal Oasis in Petionville, a once-upscale suburb of Port-au-Prince that’s now a leading business and commercial hub.

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