How This Travel Company Is Bridging The Gap Between Haiti and The Dominican Republic
By Parker Diakite
In 2012, Jenny Checo founded the sustainable tourism company “Atlas Travelers” offering offers innovative experiences through cultural exchange.
Checo founded the travel company after graduating college with a degree in Tourism Business Administration with the hopes of traveling the world and reaching all 7 continents.
Nearly seven years later, Checo is only two continents from completing her goal but in the meantime, she has another goal she’s been working hard on: allowing travelers to witness the good between Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Checo said she was among the first travel agencies with an experience of this kind.
“When I started motivating other Dominicans to travel to Haiti, people called me crazy,” Checo said.
In an interview with Travel Noire, Checo describes how perceptions of Haiti are changing and how she’s using Atlas to encourage travelers to see all the beauty that Haiti has to offer through the “Other Side of Haiti Tour.”
TN: Can you tell our readers what inspired you all to create an experience that bridges Haiti and the DR together?
Checo: When I founded my travel company, I didn’t have the economic resources, or a visa, that allowed me to travel freely around the world. The closest foreign country to me was my neighbor Haiti, so I decided to organize a trip and invited others to tag along.
That trip transformed me immensely, changing the way I looked at things and motivated me to support others to break barriers just as I had and do away with their own prejudices by experiencing cultural exchanges based on sustainable tourism.
I was surprised that there wasn’t anyone doing this before, mainly focused on the Dominican population. For that reason, since my first encounter, I took on the mission of improving Dominican-Haitian relations, and since then I haven’t stopped taking groups of 15-25 people to Cap Haitiën. I have currently led over 50 groups to Cap Haitien.
TN: What activities will people experience with this trip?
Checo: The trip is curated to connect the travelers to the history of the struggle for black liberation and gain insights into the rich Haitian culture, all the while enjoying the finest sights, sounds and flavors around.
Travelers will experience a walking city tour of historic downtown Cap Haitien’s picturesque historic quarter; a visit the Citadelle Laferriere, a UNESCO patrimony and the largest fortress in the Americas that was constructed after the revolution in the early 19th century to defend the new black republic from invasion; a delicious culinary experience with great traditional Haitian and modern Afro-Caribbean mixed with French fusions, and some of the best cocktails around with locally produced Rhum.
TN: Why do you feel this cultural experience is needed?
Checo: We are countries known for a strong history of conflict. We must also learn about the history of solidarity that our people have worked together for centuries. Very few know about the great accomplishments we attained through a collaboration including abolishing slavery, preventing re-enslavement and even imperialism.
I see it this way: we are married with no chance of separation. We need to find ways to thrive as two sovereign, independent countries. We also need to get to know each other, build love, share in different scenarios, and I firmly believe that SUSTAINABLE TOURISM is the answer.
TN: Is there anything else you want our readers to know?
Checo: Our upcoming route that is launching in 2020 called “One Island, Two Countries,” it is a route that covers all historical and cultural sites on the island, involving gastronomy and enjoying our natural resources in the most sustainable way possible. I’ve been working on this route for a couple of years, and now we finally have a date! It’s set to launch on January 2020. It’s for all of those interested in experience the Dominican Republic and Haiti to have 10 days to the Afro-Caribbean culture all over the entire island.