Although its white sand beaches can compete anywhere in the Caribbean, Haiti's troubled past has relegated the Pearl of the Antilles far behind its neighbors when it comes to tourism.

However, the government is trying to change this situation, and the steps seem to be working. The influx of tourists has jumped 20% in 2013, according to new data released by the Ministry of Tourism.

In total, the country welcomed 420,000 visitors. More than 33 000 of them from Canada, an increase of 60% since 2011, when tourism hit a wall, a year after the catastrophic earthquake that hit the country.

The Haitian Minister of Tourism, Stephanie Villedrouin, said the government is trying to change, "step by step, the perception of Haiti." The state has prioritized the attraction of visitors, more than doubling the budget of the Ministry of US $ 4.7 million in 2013.

However, it is still far from the Gap. If the country was a popular destination for the elite in the 1970s, years of political uncertainty and the 2010 disaster have changed the image of the country and scared tourists.

Its nearest neighbors, the Dominican Republic and Cuba, respectively attracted 4.7 million and 2.9 million tourists last year. Instead of trying to compete with these countries, Haiti rather focuses on its history and culture.

For now, besides, Haiti is not able to accommodate a large number of visitors. The country had only 3,200 hotel rooms last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.

Many tourists come by boat and stay only for a day, in a secure area away. While some critics have argued that Haiti should increase services to people before turning towards tourism, Ms. Villedrouin says that the growth of this sector can offer jobs and income that people need greatly.