October 26, 2009

Everyone 'helps' in their own way

beach, Guanaja, HondurasGuanaja beach
Photo: Bob Barbanes



Mel Zelaya, Patty Rodas, and others of his supporters have traveled the hemisphere, not only to garner support for Zelaya's restoration, but to promote sanctions against Honduras, the second poorest country in the hemisphere.

The Honduran economy is really hurting right now − more from the after effects of US economic crisis than the current political crisis, except in the areas of tourism and voluntourism, which are suffering tremendously from misinformation and the unwarranted, politically motivated US travel advisory.

Any kind of economic sanctions always end up hurting the poor the most. Tourism is a growing industry in Honduras that provides an estimated 155,000 jobs. Misconceptions about violence in Honduras has decimated the tourist industry in the past months and many workers have lost their jobs.

So, everyone "helps" to hammer Honduras in their own way, but somehow, former Minister of Tourism Ricardo Martínez just takes the cake! (photo - La Prensa)

Honduran Tourism Minister Ana Abarca and other representatives of Honduras' tourism institute were not permitted to attend the Central American Travel Market, the region's largest international tourism trade show of the year. Ricardo Martínez attended as the officially recognized representative of Honduras.

Martínez didn't tell travel reporters about tropical islands, beautiful coral reefs, Mayan ruins, colonial architecture, or exciting river rafting trips. Instead, he presented a video, set to revolutionary music, of rioters clashing with riot police in Tegucigalpa. I cannot even imagine the reaction that must have received at a travel convention.

Here is an excerpt from the TIME article, Honduras' Tourism Minister: "Don't Visit My Country!":

[Martínez] wants tourism to come back to Honduras, just not on Micheletti's watch. "I'm not saying I am encouraging travel to Honduras, because I have shown you that the situation [for tourism] does not exist," Martínez told the journalists in El Salvador. "But what I am saying is please don't forget us, because we are going to solve this crisis and once we do, we are really going to need your help."

And further damaging the tourist industry helps Zelaya in what way? Does anyone else see this as purely vindictive?

There has been no violence and very few, if any, protests in the tourist areas. The Islands of Roatán, Utila and Guanaja are as peaceful as ever. Roatán and Utila each had one march, but it was a
Peace Parade to show their support for the the government. (Please take a look at those links!) Cruise ships come to Roatán every week, which they would not do if there was any sign of unrest.

Copán Ruinas, La Ceiba, Trujillo, and Tela are all tourist areas where you would have a hard time finding any signs of a political crisis. Not only are the tourist areas safe, but many hotels throughout Honduras are offering two-for-one specials where you can receive two nights stay for the price of one. Other hotels are offering discounts.

Honduras Tips is a good online site to find out more about the different areas and to get basic tourist information. A new Moon travel guide for Honduras was recently published − for details, click on the book cover in the "Recommended at Amazon" section in my sidebar. If anyone would like to leave a link to a great hotel, please feel free to do so in the comments section.

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