Tourism the heart of Cuban economy Cuba is one of the most main tourist attractions in the hemisphere The number of visitors and income rates increase every year Last year for the second consec

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Tourism the heart of Cuban economy Cuba is one of the most main tourist attractions in the hemisphere The number of visitors and income rates increase every year Last year for the second consec Powered By Docstoc
					Tourism, the heart of Cuban economy
Cuba is one of the most main tourist attractions in the hemisphere.
The number of visitors and income rates increase every year. Last
year, for the second consecutive time, the number of tourists
overpasses the former record of two millions. Twelve prestigious
international hotel chains are established along the island.
Approximately the 80% of assets in tourism are national.

Today, tourism is one of the most dynamic economic activities around the
planet which has contributed to a steady development in this area in a number
of countries despite the unfavorable consequences of terrorist attacks on
September 11, 2001.
Until that moment, few companies had achieved such a prolonged boom. Since
the 80s, tourism had demonstrated its stability and has kept afloat in spite of
international financial crisis.
According to experts, for the first time in 50 years, tourism could not recover
September 11 events had an unquestionable repercussion in the industry of
tourism an in world economy. People were afraid to travel, several airlines
broke, markets contracted, and the price of plane tickets and fuel increased.
Today, a barrel of oil costs near 60 dollars -always with rising tendencies.
Due to September 11 events, there was a severe restriction in the movement
of visitors at international level. Cuba was also affected by this situation and
its plans in the reception of tourists were not fulfilled.
To this convulsive international panorama, we have to add up the permanent
economic capitalist crisis, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and several natural
Nonetheless, the movement of vacationers climbed up to 800 millions in 2005,
reports the World Tourism Organization (WTO).
In Cuba, tourism achieved a great development during the 90s. Despite the
prevailing difficulties, this sector was the only one that exhibited and annual
growth rate of near 20 %.
This development in the industry of tourism brought about evolution in many
other areas.
Its condition as pillar of the island's economy was shared with a boosting of
foreign inversion and a reorientation towards foreign commerce.
Taking into account the local potentials and the manifest requirements of that
period, Cuba decided to give top-priority to this sector. By then, Cuba had just
entered a decade of harsh economic crisis provoked by the falling of the
European Socialist block, including the Soviet Union, and by the intensification
of the US blockade against the island.
In the middle of a growing shortage of supplies, tourism became Cuba's
salvation thanks to its rapid development.
When talking about the benefits of tourism, we are obliged to acknowledge its
dynamic contributions in hard currency, its role as a major source for
employment and as the driving force behind the activities of another group of
Considered as the oil of XXI century, tourism has become the salvation for
many countries' economies, including Cuba which has incorporated it in its
strategy for the national recovery since last decade with successful results.
This audacious step has been rewarded by a steady 2-digits increase of profits
in the 90s. Today, tourism has become the mainstay of Cuban economy.
In early 1990, there were only 327.000 visitors per 12.000 rooms, whereas in
2005 some 2.319,000 tourists visited the island. This represented an increase
of 13.2% in visits and a raise of 10.7% in incomes from tourism.
Fifteen years ago, Cuba occupied the 23rd position of tourist destinations in
the western hemisphere (including United States and Canada). Today, Cuba
has the 8th position, only surpassed by the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil,
Argentina, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic.
According to Cuban Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero Cruz, the island has
had a tourist expansion of 14% in the last fifteen years which is considered
spectacular by experts.
"The development of tourism in Cuba has been the most significant and
dynamic among the 25 main Latin American tourist destinations in that
period," said Mr. Marrero.
Cuban hotel industry has also undergone substantial changes: there are 266
hotels with 42.612 rooms -72% of them have 4 and 5 stars category. The staff
is made up by some 80.000 workers, 20.000 of them have higher education
Designing with nature and culture, not on nature and without culture, this has
been one of the top priorities of physic planning. Along the years this priority
has also become an imperative to preserve and to develop the local patrimony
for tourist use.
On the basis of a study carried out in 1990, it was estimated the potential
existence of some 67 poles with over 182.000 rooms for the sector of tourism.
From that year on, those data have raised up to 93 poles and 44 tourist
centers with 209.000 rooms.
There are 16 regions along the island with possibilities for tourist development
-though 10 have superior prospects such as Varadero, Jardines del Rey,
Camagüey northern coast, Holguín northern coast, Santiago de Cuba, Cuban
south-central coast and the Canarreos archipelago.
These sites have a potential estimated on 164.000 rooms for tourism -78% of
national total.
Cuba already has 10 international airports where 93 foreign and regular
airlines operate -in 1990, only 18 airlines functioned- connecting the island
with 40 cities and capitals around the world.
During the last year, Cuba has signed agreements with prestigious companies
in the sector of tourism, despite the aggressive policy of the United States
against the island.
There are some 14 hotels with 5.530 rooms in hands of joint ventures and it is
expected an increase up to 7.600.
Cuba has also 50 hotels with 18.779 rooms managed by 12 foreign companies
-most of them from Spain.
Contrary to false commentaries diffused abroad, foreign inversions for the
development of hotel industry in the island have been quite reduced.
It was in this sector where Cuba firstly accepted foreign capital to invest in
Today, some 300 joint ventures are successfully established in Cuba in several
Cuba holds an average of the 80 percent of assets in the sector of tourism.
Due to the economic war of US against the island along the past 45 years,
Cuba has faced looses estimated at over 82.000 million dollars.
US interventionist and extraterritorial policy has greatly affected socially and
economically the island, a banned territory for any US citizen.
"It's true that so far Washington has ignored the United Nations' call for the
lifting of the blockade against Cuba, but we will not despair," said Cuban
Foreign Minister, Felipe Perez Roque who has talked on the progress Cuba
would experience if the US stopped its aggressive policy.
"For example, if Cuba received five million US tourists per year, that would
represent extra incomes of more than 7.000 million dollars," pointed out Perez
Without the scourge of the US blockade, tourism in Cuba could take near 576
million-dollar incomes during the first year.
In addition, the island could take another extra 70 million dollars per year from
a half million tourists traveling by cruisers.
Each seven days some 80 cruisers navigate around the Cuban archipelago.
Tourism is vital for the revival of the island's economy, that's why US
successive administrations since 1959 have implemented a number of
measures and laws aimed to reduce Cuba's national income.
That's why the US government has banned its citizens to visit the island even
when this new regulation violates the US constitutional law on free movement.
According to statistics, the 80% of US citizens who traveled to the Caribbean
visited Cuba.
This economic war also prevents the use of US credit cards and the US dollar
for bank transactions which brings about more difficulties and expenses for
On the other hand, Cuba has not access to most of international booking
systems because they were patented in the US. This affects efficiency and
reduces the number of potential visitors.
Through the Helms-Burton Law, passed in 1996, Washington has also put
pressure on businessmen interested in investing in this sector in the island.
Nonetheless, this project has completely failed US expectations. Many foreign
companies have kept on investing in Cuba since then, among them, a Spanish
transnational that has built near 14.000 rooms in Cayo Coco, one of the main
tourist poles of the island.
There have also been threats against those tour operators and companies
already investing in Cuba as well as terrorist activities in several tourist
According to surveys, Cuba is not the only country affected by the blockade;
the US could also take large incomes from the development of its tourist
industry, the creation of new work places and the acquisition of new clients in
the agricultural sector.
In 2004, Bush administration reinforced its aggressive policy against the island
through the implementation of new economic and political measures against
Cuba and Cuban residents in the US.
The new regulations include limitations on the remittance of money to the
island, ban on Cuban Americans from visiting their families in Cuba for a
period of 3 years, and limitations on the cash they can spend while they are in
the island. Bush administration also supported actions in third countries to
prevent the development of the flourishing industry of tourism in Cuba.
Despite US hostility, Cuba received over 2 million tourists from 44 nations -
mainly from Canada, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and Mexico-in 2004 and a
similar number of visitors in 2005.
During that period, there were also factors that contributed to the
development of tourism such as the inauguration of the "Virgin" British airline
and the "Neo" Italian one, the annual seminar of the French tourist industry
and the launching of a world catalogue in Varadero by the "TUI" German
It is also important to highlight the opening of a new airway Helsinki (Finland)-
Holguin (Cuba) by Finair Company, and the creation of new itineraries from
Europe to Havana by "Corsair" French airline.
Theses achievements were even more remarkable if we take into account the
vulnerability of tourism after the intensification of the world economic crisis,
the increase of oil prices, the impact of wars and natural disasters, and the
White House hostile policy against the island.
More recently, in early 2006, US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)
withdrew the license of "Estrella de Cuba" ("Cuban Star") travel agency based
in Miami.
That was the first time the OFAC cancelled a license and near 25 similar audits
are scheduled along the year to some 250 travel agencies throughout the US
that send people to the island.
Likewise, the application of the extraterritorial and interventionist Helms-
Burton Law brought about the expelling of 16 Cuban officials from a Mexican
hotel in February, 2006.
According to Sheraton "Maria Isabel" Hotel's managers, they received the
order directly from Sheraton headquarters in Phoenix, Arizona, which claimed
that the presence of Cubans in that hotel violated the US laws.
Sheraton hotel chain not only expelled the Cuban delegates from the hotel, but
also confiscated the sum of three nights of lodging paid in advance.
In 2005, while the movement of people around the world increased a 5.5%,
tourism increased a 4.7% in the Caribbean area.
This raise is essential in a region where 17 out of the 30 economies have
tourism as the main source of incomes.
The 60% of Caribbean countries take near the 30% of their Gross National
Product from tourism.
Cuba receives one of each nine tourists who have decided spend their
vacations in the Caribbean. According to surveys, the island is the number one
tourist destination for Canadians, Italians and Spaniards and the second choice
for German vacationers. The 55% of tourists visiting Cuba come from Europe,
and the 20% come from Canada.
Though an effort is being carried out to develop tourist poles, to diversify
markets and to create new motivations for traveling, the 70% of visitors come
for the sun and the beach.
Cuba has crystal water beaches, warm weather all year round, beautiful
landscapes, and rich and endemic flora and fauna. In addition, the island offers
the kindness of its people, excellent service and comfort, security, political
stability, and outstanding indices in healthcare and education.
Tourist industry in Cuba has achieved unprecedented levels on the basis of
peace, health and security.
In 2006, it is expected an increase of a 10% (2,530.000) of vacationers and of
an 8.1% of total incomes in tourism.
The Cuban government's decisions, the foreign capital invested and the quality
of the tourist product have been the chief factors of Cuba's success as a
competitive destination in the Caribbean.

International experts recognized the flourishing of tourism around the world
despite the devastating effects of natural disasters. They also have chosen
Cuba among the main destinations in the Caribbean.
The secretary of the World Tourism Organization (WTO), Francesco Frangialli,
comments in his bulletin "Barometer on World Tourism" that tourism increased
last year in a 5.5%.
During 2005, some 133.1 million people traveled to the American continent.
Among them, 89.4 million went to North America, 19.2 million to the
Caribbean, 6.6 to Central America, and 18 million to South America.
Venezuela and Colombia stands out in Latin America with the 23% and the
21.8% respectively of total visitors in the region.
In the Caribbean, visits raised a 4.7%. Though several nations in the area
reduced their incomes from tourism, Cuba and Saint Vincent exhibited
increases of 13.2% and 16.4% respectively.
In 2005, 808 million tourists traveled around the world despite natural
disasters that have negative effects on the security of travelers.
Mr. Frangialli pointed out that though today's climate of insecurity and
uncertainty have directly affected tourism, this sector has not still collapsed.
According to the WTO, it is expected an increase in the sector between four
and five percent in 2006 under the slogan "Travel without fear" and with the
spirit of developing a sustainable tourism especially in poor countries.

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