IMAGE: A Haitian artist. (Photo courtesy Oana Dragan, G Experiences)
G Experiences just recently presented a series of five departures of a new escorted trip to Haiti starting in February 2015. The experience operator is positioning Haiti as a cultural location with natural tourist attractions and opportunities for adventure.
Highlights include Citadelle Laferriegrave; re, a UNESCO-designated mountaintop fortress at Cap-Haiuml; tien; a trip of a rum distillery; lessons in making the regional kasav flat bread; a meeting with a voodoo priest; looking for voodoo artifacts at the Iron Market; a visit to the Art Creation Foundation for Children, which helps at-risk youth learn creative abilities; swimming at the Bassin-Bleu pools; and collapsing the Marie-Jeanne cave.
TravelPulse interviewed Jeff Russill, VP of Development at G Experiences, about what prompted the business newest step.
TravelPulse: So G Experiences is going into Haiti for the first time. How did this happened?
Jeff Russill: We were approached by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), which had a tourist development project for the government of Haiti. So they asked us to come in on a consulting level about where they must be putting their cash. Essentially it was a tourist capacity in Haiti speaking with gig. Weve dealt with the IDB prior to on community tourism tasks throughout Latin America, so they are extremely knowledgeable about us.
TP: What did you learn? Were you surprised?
JR: Yeah, more than surprised. Returning a few years, after the earthquake in Haiti, the owner of our company, Bruce Poon Pointer, was on a panel about reconstructing Haiti down in Haiti with all the government companies and nongovernment firms from around the globe. And he bluntly said, Do not look to tourist to rebuild Haiti since you need demand first. Tourist can be purposed for wealth circulation and a financial catalyst, but not if its somewhere nobody desireswishes to go.
At the time there was absolute absolutely no need for Haiti as a tourism destination. Five years down the roadway when the IDBG came to us and stated, Look, the ministry is attempting to determine where they ought to put their cash. The governments attempting to find out if they ought to put it into tourism or not. Can you assist us with the tourism capacity?
I stated, Sure, however you need to be OKAY with me coming back and saying there isn’t much.
And they said, Yeah, we really want to knowwish to know that. We want to understandwish to know in fact what the potential is. So we did a lot of market research up here. We went down for a number of weeks and checked out the nation. And it was about halfway through that I looked over at my colleagues and stated, Not just am I going to state theres prospective, but were constructing a journey. I desire to be the very first people running journeys right here. Well develop the need. Well begin the demand. Well enlighten the customer, because this is an excellent area. Individuals need to be coming.
So I was really surprised, to respond to the initial concern. It took me until I came down there. I was fairly surprised by how great a destination it was, however likewise from an infrastructure point of view that it had a lot more than I thought. And the factor is that its been supporting nongovernment firms and aid workers for years. And the UN doesn’t put their individuals in ramshackle areas. You requirehave to have appropriate hotels, appropriate health, there is a lot of inspection. The World Wellness Organization exists, the UN, every branch of the UN exists I think. So there have been a great deal of foreign nationals working in Haiti for decades. So all the hotels and facilities you need to run trips is already there.
G Adventures Presents Haiti from G Adventures on Vimeo.
TP: What did you learn from your market research?
JR: Thats what I do anyways. Were constantly introducing brand-new products in the market. We introduce about 200 new products a year. So thats exactly what I and my team do anyway. Because were even more like a niche experience travel company, its one thing when market researchmarketing research says people should be going to Europe, everyone knows that. Our task is to reverse exactly what the next place will certainly be, whether its Nicaragua or the Philippines, and be there initially.
The finest area to start for that is the backpackers. When the backpackers were going with Southeast Asia and Peru and Central America 25 years ago, 10 years later on everybody followed. However that is actually compressed. Thats like a two-year thing now and thats due to the fact that of social media and the Web.From a location being found by the backpackers and taking off is really tight now. So its approximately us to be in there initially. We are actually invested in Colombia right now and creating a lot of new product this year because we see that thats at that exact tipping point. The backpackers have actually been going back to Colombia for about five or six years. Thats all going to tip now into mainstream tourist kicking back in in Colombia.
Haitis a bit early that. So were going in a little earlier than we usually would, but its due to the fact that we see something pretty unique there. There are backpackers there. And there are individuals talking on all the message boards on Lonesome World and even on Twitter and Facebook. There are people going and discovering and theyre the kind of individuals who are brought in to being there first and being in the early adopters and really getting off the beaten course. Those people will constantly come first in a destination. So we saw the start of need.
TP: So in your market research you take a look at Facebook and twitter and hellip;?
JR: We use all the social websites, whether its Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook. We even take a look at things like Google search. We take a look at Google search levels worldwide, based upon whether theyre with the words toursor travelor getaways, weve got a bunch of terms and we can see how they increase. There is our own website. Weve handled to website search on our own web site and see where individuals are coming from and surfing. When we see a nation going up every year we understandwe understand more and morean increasing number of individuals are taking a look at our site, thats probably a great indicator they are taking a look at other sites also for that location. We saw that with Colombia over the last number of years. It simply keeps going up and up as a keyword search.
You can begin seeing action on TripAdvisor on things due to the fact that its such a chat room now generally. Another huge one is Lonesome Planet Thorntree, its the house of a lot of backpackers.