The Yéle Haiti Foundation, an established leader in recovery efforts in Haiti, announced the formation of a new alliance to launch a trailblazing pilot hospitality vocational training initiative in one of the country’s key port cities. Working with HVS, the leading global hospitality consulting and services firm, the program will infuse up to 120 area residents with core skills. The intent is to educate current and aspiring hotel employees and accelerate self-sufficiency, economic development, and job creation. Yéle Haiti’s new program will debut in September 2011 in Jacmel, one of Haiti’s renowned tourist and resort destinations, which suffered severe damage after the earthquake.
“This effort is to provide hospitality education and training to people ready, willing, and eager to work but without the education or skills to do so, in addition to enhancing the skills of those already employed in the industry,” says Derek Johnson, CEO of Yele Haiti. “This is at the core of who and what we are as a grassroots NGO, operating on the ground in Haiti. We’ve been at the forefront of providing emergency relief – food, water, and medical supplies -- but we also fundamentally believe that it’s better to teach a person to fish, then to gift them a single fish.”
Yéle Haiti reached a significant milestone in this hospitality effort by securing commitments to hire at least 75% of the students graduating next March 2012. Hospitality is the newest platform in Yéle Haiti’s strategic push to help people in Haiti’s most impoverished communities move towards self-sufficiency. Yéle Haiti already offers vocational training courses in carpentry, masonry, and plumbing at Collège Esaie Victor in Port-au-Prince; the initial class of 120 students will graduate this month. The Foundation has already sought funding support to expand the vocational training initiative to other departments of Haiti in at least five different industries.
According to Trinidad native Parris Jordan, Managing Director of HVS’s office in the Caribbean, “our region experienced the greatest loss in hospitality and leisure tourism demand worldwide in 2009, and [the region] continues to lose market share to competing destinations partially due to low service standards. This training program initiated by Yéle Haiti, and combined with our expertise in hospitality and training, will provide the means for Haiti to capture more of its share of global tourism revenue and boost the economy by delivering an upgraded guest experience that encourages repeat visitors.”
In order to ensure that this hospitality program reflects the needs and realities of Haiti’s tourism industry while adhering to international standards, Yéle Haiti and HVS have been consulting with the Tourism Association of Haiti regarding the technical and cultural aspects of curriculum development and student/teacher recruitment. Furthermore, HVS brings an innovative approach to this effort by including feedback from major hotel brands and companies and local Haitian operators and tourism professionals early on in the development process in order to unify global “best practices” with local perspectives in the course programming and delivery.
Mrs. Yanick Martin, Director of the Regional Tourism Board of South-East Haiti states, “We are excited about the Yéle Haiti – HVS collaboration. Hospitality is the cornerstone of Jacmel. We have a beautiful history; our town is rich in arts, music, and cuisine. We want to share our story and culture with the world. Come to Jacmel. You will not be disappointed.”