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Haiti - One Year Later

Haiti's mostly silent - and very sad - tourism story...

At 4.53 pm Wednesday January 12, we'll mark the 1-year anniversary of the 7.0 earthquake that decimated Port-au-Prince, driving buildings to their knees, separating the unlucky dead from the lucky survivors in less than 35 seconds.

Courtesy New York Daily NewsCourtesy New York Daily NewsA year later the statistics are still overwhelming. More than 230,000 known dead, 4,000 amputees and 1,150 refugee camps in the city proper. No one ever expected Haiti to emerge from the ashes within a year, but the images today are as difficult to watch as they were a year ago. There is still so much suffering.

We wrote about Haiti extensively last year after losing a good friend and colleague, James Coates who worked for the UN at the time. We pondered the ethics of visiting a Haiti in the wake of the devastation and the future of cruise ship ports on the island.

What's changed in a year? Is Haiti open for business yet? While it's easy to get overwhelmed with the continued suffering, there are snippets of good news worth sharing.

New Airport Hotel - In 2012, a $33 million airport hotel is slated to open near Port-au-Prince's Toussaint L'Ouverture International Airport. It will house 240-rooms, restaurants, fitness center, swimming pool, spa facilities and lounges. According to Luxuo (a luxury lifestyle blog) the hotel will have "a distinct Creole feel."

Royal Caribbean - A week after the Haiti earthquake, Royal Caribbean visited their private destination on Haiti, Labadee - and took a PR backlash for it. But a year later, the cruise line is continuing their stop on the island - and bringing much-needed tourism dollars with each docking.

We happily give Royal Caribbean kudos for keeping the world informed in the days after the quake through their blog. And as the year progressed, they continued by helping build one of the first post-earthquake schools, encouraging guests to donate their points to aid programs and for guiding food donation programs across their sister lines of Celebrity and Azamara Club Cruises.

Travel to Haiti with caution

Google Haiti and travel and you'll find multipleCourtesy New York Daily NewsCourtesy New York Daily News warnings to avoid non-essential travel to the country. Crime is a problem throughout, with tourists being targeted for obvious reasons. Groups are obviously safer than walking alone or as a couple, but demonstrations and unrest make any kind of travel in the country risky.

In December, American Airlines (the main carrier to the island) suspended flights due to demonstrations. The New York Times reported: "Haiti had remained calm this year after a devastating earthquake, a slow recovery, a deadly hurricane and a raging cholera epidemic. But the angry reactions to Tuesday night's announcement raised concerns that a period of volatility could lie ahead."

Trip Advisor, one of our favorite places to send GG readers, is eerily quiet when it comes to Haiti - a good sign the country is not open for leisure travel yet.

Concerned about the cholera epidemic in Haiti? The World Health Organization is a trustworthy source of current health concerns visiting Haiti - heed their warnings.

A year after the earthquake in Haiti, travel to the island is risky at best. But that doesn't mean you can't help improve life there - even if you choose to spend your tourism dollars elsewhere. Trip Advisor has an extensive list of charities still in need of your help.

Ever been to Haiti? Would you travel there now? Share your stories here or talk to us on Facebook or Twitter. We'd love to hear from you!

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Thank you for remembering this tragic event. It is amazing how easy life moves on for the rest of the world, and those affected firsthand by the quake are still in turmoil.

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