Miami Heat's Bosh, Wade visit Haiti

Celebrity visits are part of tourism plan hoping to propel nation's economy

By Will Manso - Sports Director, Calvin Hughes - Anchor

Dwayne Wade, Gabrielle Union, Adrianne Bosh and Chris Bosh arrive at Port-au-Prince, Monday.

PORT-AU-PRINCE - Haitian officials welcomed two Miami Heat stars to Port-au-Prince Monday.

Haiti's minister of tourism, Stephanie Balmir-Villedrouin, thanked Dwyane Wade, 33, and Chris Bosh, 30, after their arrival at the Caribbean country. Adrienne Bosh and Gabrielle Union were also there.

The stars were in Haiti for the three-day national carnival, which started Sunday with a parade in the Champ de Mars neighborhood. Celebrity visits are part of Haiti's tourism ministry's plan to help propel the nation's economy.

Five years after the Jan. 12, 2010 massive earthquake that caused an estimated $14 billion in damage, efforts to attract foreign investment in tourism, manufacture and agriculture continue.

The effort seems to be paying of. Haiti hosted 465,174 overnight visitors last year, authorities reported. This is a 10.8 percent increase over 2013 and a 24.7 percent increase in the prior years.

The theme of this year's festivities is "Nou tout se Ayiti," creole for "We are all Haiti," were expected to attract foreign tourism.

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Authorities said about 125 groups of dance schools participated in a parade that has been attracting tens of thousands of revelers nationwide for an event that has been a tradition since the country was a slave colony.

The U.S. Embassy was reminding tourists to stay vigilant and expect traffic, road closures and crowds. Among the crowds are the "Rara" bands, who are known to bang on cars' windows, "crack bull whips, twirl knives and machetes and make a lot of noise," a notice said.

Protesters of high gasoline prices threatened to disrupt the celebrations if the cost doesn't come down. The government decreased it from $4.75 a gallon to just over $4, but that wasn't enough. But the protesters want a 50 percent reduction.

There will be about 1,200 police officers. The South Command of the U.S. Army sent the National Guard of Louisiana to assist the United Nations Police, the Civil Protection of Italy and the National Police of Haiti.

The World Bank is also helping to fund the event.

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