United Nations Special Envoy to Haiti, former United States president Bill Clinton, has led a delegation of 500 business leaders from around the world to the Caribbean country in a bid to unlock what he called Haiti`s great potential for development. "
Addressing the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) in the capital, Port-au-Prince, yesterday, Mr. Clinton said that this is the right time to invest in Haiti, to help build a better neighbour, a reliable business partner, an alluring tourist destination, and a more prosperous home for its hard-working, resilient people. "
Before wrapping up his two-day visit today, he will highlight the country`s tourist attractions, stopping at the Sans Souci Palace, a World Heritage site registered with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It is a national park which also houses the Citadelle, a historic symbol of freedom for Haitians.
Yesterday, Mr. Clinton, reiterating his support for the Government`s economic recovery plan, met with President RenÃ© PrÃ©val and Prime Minister MichÃ¨le Pierre-Louis.
His visit to Haiti marks his third so far this year and his second since being appointed as Special Envoy by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in May.
Mr. Clinton was accompanied this most recent trip by Paul Farmer, his Deputy Special Envoy, who is a physician and Harvard University professor.
Since assuming his position in June, the former US leader has announced many achievements, including a $55 million investment by the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line to develop Labadie, a beach resort area, to draw up to 1 million tourists by 2011. The company, which has committed to boost the local economy by buying food from Haitian producers, will also set up a vocational school in the area to train people for jobs in the hospitality industry.
Last week, his Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) announced nearly two dozen commitments with a $258 million price tag for projects for Haiti, such as a three-year, $2 million pledge by actor Matt Damon`s water.org organization to provide safe water and sanitation for 50,000 people.
Earlier this month, Mr. Clinton told the Security Council that the country has a remarkable opportunity " to overcome decades of misrule and neglect, but that hurdles remain and the international community must step up its support to ensure the Caribbean country can consolidate its gains.
The outlook for Haiti was positive, he said, with a Government committed to building a modern State, large pledges of aid from donors, a diaspora willing to help and goodwill from the international community.
I am convinced that Haiti has a remarkable opportunity to escape its past, " Mr. Clinton stressed, noting that throughout the region, there is a deep, wide sense that we can and should support " the country, considered the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.