PARAMARIBO, Suriname—A president accused of murder and convicted for drug smuggling. Rogue gold miners and outlaw timber harvesters, most of them foreigners drawn to the lawlessness. Roads that end two hours outside the capital, leaving travelers with the choice of either taking handmade canoes through rivers infested with anacondas, piranhas, and giardia or flying on prop planes with alarming safety records.
Why would anyone want to go to Suriname? That’s what I traveled there to find out.
Actually, I had been invited by the recently formed Suriname Tourism Foundation, who had seen some of the consulting I did with the Belize Tourism Board a couple years ago. Like Belize, they wanted advice on how to best reach prospective travelers. With the number of Dutch tourists declining each year—Suriname is a former colony of the Netherlands—the country is eager to tap into new markets, and North Americans are, geographically and financially, the demographic most likely to take a chance on the smallest country in South America.
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