Tourism in Cuba

In the mid-1990s tourism surpassed sugar from the old mainstay of the Cuban economy, as the main source of foreign exchange. The tourism figure significantly in the development plan of the Cuban government, a senior official described it as the “heart of the economy.” In the mid-1990s tourism surpassed sugar, long the mainstay of the Cuban economy, as the primary source of foreign exchange. Havana devotes significant resources to building new tourist facilities and renovating historic structures for use in the tourism sector.

Approximately 1.7 million tourists visited Cuba in 2000, generating 19,000 million in gross revenue; but the hopes of the government regarding the prolonged growth of this sector did not materialize due to the decline of the global economy in 2001 and the negative effects on regional tourism after September 11. Final figures for 2001 reflect an insignificant increase in the number of tourists and no change in gross income for 2000. This situation changed in the course of the decade. In 2000, 1,773,986 foreign visitors arrived in Cuba. Revenue from tourism reached US $1.7 billion. Cuba has become the main destination after Western Europe for Canadian tourists, arriving in 2008 to 818,246 tourists, and has a significant share of Spanish, Italian and British markets. By 2012, some 3 million visitors brought nearly $2 billion yearly.

The main destinations are:
Old Havana
Jardines del Rey

The Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) System is the lead state agency for tourism in the other states of the country involved. MINTUR makes policy and monitors its implementation in institutions that directly manage the properties of the sector. Cuba also has a new faculty at the University of Havana, dedicated to studies on tourism, Department of Tourism.To carry forward the comprehensive development of tourism in Cuba is structured a system consisting of hotel entities (Wider Caribbean Habanaguanex, Islazul, Horizons, Grupo Gaviota, Cubanacan, etc..) And extra-(Directions, Cubatur, Transtur, Turarte, etc. .) and other autonomous and independent, they assume other support functions.

The rapid growth of tourism has had widespread social and economic repercussions in Cuba. This has led to speculation of the emergence of a two-tier economy and the fostering of a state of tourist apartheid on the island. This situation was exacerbated by the influx of dollars into the Cuban economy during the 1990s, potentially creating a dual economy based on the dollar (the currency of tourists) on the one hand, and the peso on the other. Scarce imported goods – and even some of local manufacture, such as rum and coffee- could be had at dollars-only stores, but were hard to find or unavailable at peso prices. As a result, Cubans who earned only in the peso economy, outside the tourist sector, were at an economic disadvantage. Those with dollar incomes based upon the service industry began to live more comfortably. This widened the gulf between Cubans’ material standards of living, in conflict with the Cuban Government’s long term socialist policies.

Since 2008 the entry and use of tourist facilities are allowed for Cuban citizens.