By Luz Marina Fornieles Sánchez – Jan 19, 2024
Tourism continues to be essential to alleviating the difficulties derived from the war economy that Cuba is going through. These are times to correct distortions and reinvigorate the economic panorama.
Cuba starts on a new path for its development this year, after the government announced a series of measures with this aim last year. Now we are working on its careful implementation in 2024. We steer back into the path, and we are looking for solutions with the conviction that in the face of complexity in the current situation, we must act in order to resolve it, we must encourage citizen participation and have rigorous control.
We have to aim at sectors consistently contributing to the lack of financial liquidity, a problem that hits everywhere, in order to confront the criminal unilateral blockade of the United States, which is increasingly twisted and whose framework of legislation “watches” us 24 hours of every day, of all weeks and months of the year, in this case leap year with 366 days, to “strangle” us.
That may be a strong word but it carries the weight of truth: more than 80% of the Cuban population is living in hardship because of the blockade. And as we have lived with that ongoing hostility, we did so during COVID-19, and we survived. We were able to alleviate the colossal challenge that 2023 represented, and now, in this new year, we are analyzing alternatives.
In 2023 there were good indicators in tobacco, seafood, and biotechnology, and the recreation industry was reactivated, but far from the expected and necessary pace.
Creative initiatives and capacities to meet deadlines must be developed, otherwise they become simple goals that, for one reason or another, could remain half-fulfilled.
Apart from the exports of professional services abroad, the sphere of recreation is a leading sector due to its condition of dynamically capturing foreign currency, while at the same time it is linked with other activities, which like wagons are driven by the locomotive for its requirements of supplies.
Without ignoring the backlash of events like the strong media war, the hegemonic global crisis—present equally in markets and tourism, and the fierce harassment of Cuba by the White House, Cuba plans to receive 3,100,000 tourists this year, in a plan adapted to our context.
In 2023, Cuba received around 2,450,000 tourists, according to figures from the Ministry of Economy and Planning, out of an initial plan of 3.5 million, which from the beginning seemed extremely exaggerated, in the vain illusion of getting closer to the more than 4.2 million tourists of 2019.
Among the pending issues of tourism are palpable realities such as the lack of airport connections that impact international tourist flows, prioritizing the potential of Latin America and Russia; creation of new products derived from other attractions, and lack of taking advantage of foreign tourism markets to promote Cuba.
The quality of the service, with a multi-skilled and language-dominant employment, is a quality that adorns Cuba beyond its many attributes, sometimes with a certain similarity to its main competition in the area, the Caribbean, only that their access is not restricted to travelers from the US. In fact, 90% of those who vacation in the Caribbean are Americans.
The blockade does harm, and this is a simple example: Washington persecutes both people and companies that trade with “the enemy,” that is, Cuba. The US reduced the arrival of cruise ships to zero with its brutal blockade. It hit right where it hurts because the US knows that there is interest in the “Cursed Island,” which has also been put on the list of alleged states sponsoring terrorism, by successive United States administrations.
Being displaced from the natural market, that is, the US, we had to look elsewhere, and so vacationers from Eastern Europe and China are becoming common in these parts, clearly at the moment in the rescue process after the consequences of the pandemic, which still weigh upon us.
We cannot start from preconceived ideas that we have the best natural environment and a high-quality and diverse hotel and non-hotel infrastructure. Our competitive neighbors such as the Mexican Caribbean, the Dominican Republic, Central America, and Puerto Rico also exhibit their vacation proposals, and their US clients are assured, which is why the forces of the national industry are called upon to develop creative activities to get more and more parts of the pie. It would not be easy, that is for sure. It never has been.
During a speech at the International Fair of Tourism of Cuba (FITCuba 2023), held in Varadero in May 2023, Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García Granda said that the sector “has a leading role, because it represents the sector that contributes the most income to the national economy and is one of the strategic axes of the development of the Archipelago.”
Well, knowing its role, it only remains for each person to do their job efficiently. Cuba has preserved natural benefits, more than 600 kilometers of beach, a human capital of recognized qualifications, colonial heritage cities, nine World Heritage sites, a broad historical-cultural legacy, around 80,000 hotel rooms and 14 tourist centers possessing of a potential for 400,000 rooms, of which close to 20% has been executed.
The greatest investment dynamic in the country in the last two decades has occurred, precisely, in this area, so it is urgent to respond to this effort with superior results.
With such guarantees we have the tools to fight, especially when Cuba constitutes a safe, politically stable destination and with foreign partners who have backed us up, which certainly speaks of a determined commitment with Cuba; and we have a people with a well-earned reputation for being hospitable and supportive. In the midst of the demands of today’s challenging context: the field is called to demonstrate that: Yes, it can be done.
In March 2022, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, asked for a review of the organization to work with creativity. We need, he said then, more innovative tourism.
As we understand, this exhortation is still valid, taking into account the turbulent scenario Cuba is experiencing, where the sector has its state mandate defined. There is no other option: Cuban tourism must broaden its horizons and solve pending issues.
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/February 29, 2024
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/
- Orinoco Tribune 2https://orinocotribune.com/author/yullma/February 27, 2024