Haiti is on the cusp of becoming an attractive destination for travellers. The last half decade has been tumultuous for the Caribbean island country, and Haiti is unfortunately still best known for the October 2010 earthquake that left a hundred thousand people dead and many more displaced.
But as rebuilding continues, Haiti’s tourist gems are slowly becoming more and more pronounced. The Citadelle la Ferriere, for example, is a tremendous historic relic and Haiti’s only UNESCO World Heritage site. The mountaintop fortress pays testament to the country’s transition away from slavery and French colonialism, and the site is the Caribbean’s version of Peru’s famous Machu Picchu.
Haitian culture is an eclectic and exciting mix. Dine on classic creole dishes, party in the city of Jacmel as part of the annual carnival celebrations, or learn more about Haiti’s fascinating Vodou religious traditions. Or of course you can settle into a beach chair along the island’s southern stretch of beach. And if the beach isn’t your first choice you can always explore one of Haiti’s many swimming holes or waterfalls.
Almost anywhere you travel in Haiti can be considered off the beaten path. This can have its benefits ‒ for example most hotels and businesses are still owned by local Haitians and there isn’t as much commercialization of the waterfront as in other Caribbean countries. However it also means you must heed safety and security advice. Haiti can be a beautiful adventure so long as you’re careful and flexible with your travel itinerary.
Which Vaccines Do I Need For My Trip to Haiti?
There are no vaccinations required to enter Haiti, however the Public Health Agency (PHA) recommends ensuring the following vaccinations are up to date:
- Hepatitis A– A liver disease caused by consuming contaminated food and water. Eating street food in Haiti is not recommended, and bottled water is a must.
- Hepatitis B– Humans contract hepatitis B most frequently through unprotected sex, exchange of bodily fluids, or use of a contaminated needle or piercing tool.
- Rabies– While the number of rabies cases in Haiti is on a decline, travellers are still at risk of getting the infection if licked or scratched by a rabid animal. Rabies diagnostic tests are still widely unavailable in most of Haiti.
- Measles– Haiti last experienced a measles outbreak in 2000. Occurrences are less common today, especially for travellers, though visitors to the country should still ensure their immunization record is up to date.
- Typhoid– Vaccination against typhoid fever is highly recommended for all travellers to Haiti as the intestinal infection was recently an endemic in the country.
- Cholera– Haiti is currently experiencing one of the worst cholera outbreaks in history as a result of the 2010 earthquake. Cholera is an intestinal infection caused by consuming contaminated food and water.
What Mosquito-Borne Diseases Are In Haiti?
Dengue fever and chikungunya are two insect-borne diseases found in Haiti. The PHA suggests Italians take mosquito bite prevention measures, pack insect repellant with a minimum DEET content of 30%, and consider buying Permethrin-treated clothing. There is also a year-round risk of malaria throughout the country. Travellers to Haiti should talk to a medical specialist six weeks before their trip to determine whether antimalarials are necessary.
It is important to note that health care facilities and medication will almost always be of lower standard than of that found in Italy. As a result, ensure you buy travel and health insurance with a reliable provider and carry insurance information with you at all times. Medical institutions may require payment for treatment up front and medications bought at pharmacies may be fake or expired.
For more information about these and other infections, schedule an appointment with your Passport Health Travel Specialist. Call us at +39 392 0056499 or make your appointment on line today.
What Is the Climate Like in Haiti?
The climate of Haiti varies based on your location and altitude.
In the capital city of Port-au-Prince, conditions are warm or hot and humid. Temperatures range from 22° Celsius up to 31° Celsius throughout the year. The bay-side city experiences two rainy seasons, one from April to June and the second in October and November.
Hurricane season in Haiti lasts from June until the end of November, and there is an increased chance of flooding and landslides during this time period.
How Safe Is Haiti?
There are several safety and security measures Italian travellers should be mindful of when visiting this Caribbean island nation.
Global Affairs has confirmed the kidnapping of more than two dozen in Haiti since 2010. While most kidnappings involve Haitian, all travellers are at risk and should ensure they register with the Italian Embassy in Haiti prior to arrival. The regularity of kidnappings has been exacerbated by the frequent payment of requested ransom fees.
The most criminal activity is concentrated to specific neighbourhoods of Port-au-Prince, and often relates to gang involvement. Travellers should avoid hot spot areas such as Carrefour, Cite Soleil, Martissant, and Bel Air. Staying away from political demonstrations is also a safety must.
When arriving into the Port-au-Prince airport, it is suggested that Italians have a business colleague, friend, or family member pick them up. Otherwise a reliable taxi connection should be made with the hotel where you are staying. It is not recommended that Italians use public transportation while in Haiti.
Personal safety may be affected by the fact that Haiti is in a seismic zone. Since earthquakes are unpredictable natural occurrences, it is important to ensure the location where you are staying is structurally sound and has an emergency plan in place should a natural disaster such as an earthquake occur.
Travellers should be careful when withdrawing money at ATM machines which can be unreliable and frequent targets of robberies. If a safety or security incident does occur while in Haiti, travellers should contact the Italian Consolate in Haiti prior to the police or hospital.
What Should I Pack For Haiti?
If you’re heading to Haiti here are a few things you’ll want to pack:
- Hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes: Cleanliness takes on a new emphasis in Haiti as a result of the current Cholera endemic, as well as the prevalence of diseases such as Hepatitis A and Typhoid Fever. Carrying cleaning products will be handy, especially for more remote destinations where you can’t always find a sink and soapy water.
- Modest clothing: Despite the warm weather and what locals may be wearing, it is recommended that international travellers of both genders wear more conservative clothing. Longer sleeves and pants and loose fitting clothing will fit the bill and will also offer better protection against the Haitian sun.
- Close-toed shoes: Likewise while the warm weather may make you want to don sandals to wander about, sturdy and close-toed shoes are recommended for travellers. Cities and rural areas alike often have poor road conditions and infrastructure, and you want to ensure your feet are not exposed to any bacteria that may dwell at ground level.
- Rehydration medication: Rehydration crystals or powder will be helpful in situations of over exposure to the sun or in the case of travellers’ diarrhea.
- A water purification kit: While drinking bottled water is recommended, there may be times when you cannot find a bottle to buy. In these circumstances it is essential to be carrying one or more water purification method. Iodine tablets, a water purification kit, or a UV light wand such as a Steripen are good alternatives to have on hand for emergencies.
Italian Embassy in Haiti
All Italians visiting Haiti should register with the Embassy of Italy in before departure. This will inform the office of your travel plans within the country and will allow them to reach out to you in the case of an emergency or evacuation. Italy does not have an Embassy in Haiti but only an Honorary Consualte while the nearest Embassy can be found in Panama at the below indicated address. If you plan to purchase a local SIM card you can also enter your phone number to receive SMS updates from the office.
The Embassy of Italy in Panama
Visit the Embassy of Italy in Panama website prior to your departure to confirm correct contact details for the Italian Embassy.
Entry and Exit Requirements for Haiti
Italians staying in Haiti for 90 days or less do not require a tourist visa. They should, however, have a valid passport. Passport validity requirements may change based on your transportation company, and it is important to check with them pre-travel.
If a Italian traveller wishes to stay for longer than three months they must apply through the Haitian Immigration Service prior to the 90-day mark. Failure to get immigration approval in advance may lead to travellers requiring an exit permit before they can leave the country.
If you have any questions about travelling to Haiti or are wondering what shots you may need for your trip, schedule an appointment with your local International Health Passport clinic today.