Cuba's private tourism looking "very good" for rest of 2015

Posted: 28-Apr-15 13:00

The future's looking bright for the private sector of Cuba's tourism industry. The island's Tourism Minister was recently quoted as saying that the rest of 2015 alone looks "very good", and the numbers of privately-available rooms and lodging is on the rise. That's before American visitors set foot there, as Cuba is popular with Canadian tourists. What will happen when the US relaxes its travel restrictions, and Americans can visit freely?

Cuba's private tourism looking "very good" for rest of 2015

The non-state portion of Cuba's tourism industry is enjoying a boost so far this year. It has 8,000 rooms and counting in private lodgings, not counting the additional 1,000 available to US tourists soon to be advertised on Airbnb.

Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, speaking at the Varadero Gourmet Festival, was quoted as saying that Cuba's first quarter was "magnificent". With an almost 15% rise (one million visitors), it's hard to argue with that assessment. He explained:

"The first quarter of this year has been great... We expect that the rest of 2015 will be very good".

This has been attributed to the government authorising travel agents to ink deals with private hospitality companies in 2013, and 2010 economic reforms to promote entrepreneurship. Cuba currently has around 1,600 "paladares" (privately owned restaurants) plus the 8,000-plus private lodgings.

Growth is vitally important to Cuba. Although most of the current visitors are from Canada, with Germany, France, Britain and Italy not far behind, there's been a sharp increase in American visitors. No official figures have been released, but the uplift is said to have come from the recently eased travel restrictions.

There are fears that if all the twelve existing travel categories (including education, religion and cultural exchanges) are done away with, then the island will be unable to cope with the influx of holidaymakers. As it stands, US travellers still cannot legally visit Cuba just for "tourism" alone.

With deals being done with other Caribbean nations, talk of US firms allowing their credit cards to be used on the island, local firms like CubaTaxi setting up shop and direct journeys from the US becoming a reality, tourism could overtake professional services as the number one source of income for the Communist-run island.


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