Sunday, April 12, 2009

Cuba, Vacation Hot Spot?

U.S. Tourists may have a new travel destination within the coming years. Since the Late 1950's the U.S government has not allowed U.S citizens to travel to Cuba. Not that it is illegal for citizens to be in Cuba, but the spending of U.S. money there is considered illegal by the U.S. This may soon change because congress is trying to have this ban lifted.

Since the end of the Cold War, Cuba has been encouraging international travelers to visit. It has been effective and Cuba has become a vacation destination for many Europeans. If Americans are openly allowed to visit, this may become a problem for the small Cuban tourism industry.

There are many concerns about allowing a flood of Americans into this country. Prices which are already high may become higher. Lodging in Cuba is not plentiful and with an influx of new tourists, it will become even more scarce. Many ameneties that Americans consider standard fare such as bottled beer, fruit, french fries, in room coffee makers, internet etc are scarce at even at the best Cuban resorts. Even getting an extra roll of toilet paper can be a hard to do at times. Restaurants are small, taxis and rental cars are hard to find as well. The airports would not be able to handle the amount of flights coming and going from the U.S.. Cuban tourism may not be able to meet the demands of the American Tourist.

Many tourism industry experts feel that by opening Cuba to American tourism, a huge strain would be put on this small country. Cuba at this time is not massively overhauling its hotels and other hotspots at the prospect of millions of new visitors. Instead as tourism increases, the tourism infrastructure is following along behind.

If the ban is lifted, it will be very interesting to see the changes in Cuba. If millions of Americans flock to Cuba for vacations, there will be a definate impact on the people and resources of the country. If Americans are allowed to go to Cuba, American influence will follow as well. Which can be both good and bad.;_ylt=AtJXlI8X1lh8zcnjwphL7stvaA8F

photo of Havana


  1. It would be interest to see investors rushing into Cuba before the tourists as soon as the ban is lifted. I can’t imagine the Congress is doing this purely for the benefits of the U.S. tourists; the controlling groups would not make any decision that does not benefit them.

    As one small country in the world, Cuba cannot avoid the globalization. Their life has already been changed with influence brought by European tourists. The society chooses what it wants to accept and makes progress to adapt to the changes slowly. With American tourists rushing in, the stability of the society will be in jeopardy.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. I apologize for the removal, hit the post comment instead of the preview.

    The level of growth for a small country in Cuba at a fast rate may or may not be good for it, but it is a change that may be needed to give their economy a boost and to give their inhabitants a source of income that will help keep their societies stable.

    What I kept picturing, when I read the blog, is of a parent refusing to let go of a child. Every mother needs to let go of their children when it is safe to.

    Cuba has had practice in dealing with other countries coming to Cuba as a vacation spot, and has been successful. Change is good is it not?

  4. I agree with Ever's comment, "With American tourists rushing in, the stability of the society will be in jeopardy." I think the Cuban society would struggle to get on track but eventually catch up. But as sociology students we all know what can happen if rapid change would to occur at high speeds... :@
    I do think since Cuba has been experiencing tourist from Europe that if the ban is lifted that they can be prepared for changes, just like they experienced when the Europeans first started going there.
    Do the individuals who live within the Cuba society want this ban to be lifted? Or are they dreading the results? I think it makes a big difference to the society whether or not, the citizens are ready and want it to happen. Which them can effect the outcome of how fast or slow the society reacts.

  5. I am very interested in what Ever had to say. It would be interesting to see the capital market rush to the fresh area. Will Cubans be able to afford the products that are goign to be taking over thier local areas? Are they going to be the ones that are employed? Will they become colonized by the western culture? HOw much of the tourist profit will Cuba actually recieve?

  6. For Cuba, opening the country for American investment and tourism and the consequent infiltration of neo-liberal economic policy may help the country to acquire (through trade) needed medical, food, and other supplies that have previously been limited due to the US embargo.

    Although considered a developing country, Cuba has an impressive health care system that has an average life expectancy at the same level or exceeding American life expectancy. Because of limited resources, Cuba has developed a system in which they manufacture and produce many key medical supplies which in turn they utilize. Although they have faced political hostility and isolation from American and other entities and with limited economic options within the country, Cuba is a shining example of how a government, with very limited resources can allocate them as to benefit all instead of a few that an afford it.

    By opening up Cuba to America, our signature foods high in sugar, carbohydrates, and fats will be transported there by the demands of the American tourist and will thus become available to Cubans themselves. Diets may change and become less nutritious and can lead to a depreciated health and lower life expectancy.

    Like Ever mentioned, wealthy American investors and business owners may find their way to the country to take advantage of the cheap labor. Historically, this has led to exploitation of workers, insufficient wages, and degradation of health.

    Although, Castro number 2 may reject American business entities stationing themselves within the country, the influence of American food and other cultural aspects through the tourism industry can still create significant strains upon the citizens. I have already mentioned the health aspect, but I want to mention the inequality aspect.

    With wealthy Americans touting their their status through clothing, food, and other afforded luxuries such as private vehicles and high-class hotels, will there not be significant discord between the Cubans who earn dollars a day compared to the tourists who are spending hundreds? Yes, tourism may lead to economic growth, but at what expense?

  7. I think opening Cuba up for American tourism will be more of a boon than a bust, if the money that comes in is used for the good of the people, rather than to line the pocket of those in power.

    To address shopaholic's concern: economically speaking, I do not think that opening Cuba up to tourism will put a strain on the small island. In fact, I think it will help it. By providing vacation destinations for curious American tourists, Cuba opens itself up to the possibility of substantial financial profits. The concern that the island will not be able to provide for the number of tourists that are visiting seems a moot point to me. The island cannot bring in more people than it can sustain. The airlines cannot bring in more people than can find hotels, and hotels cannot book more people than they have rooms for, most people will not travel to a foreign country without guaranteeing some sort of housing, so I do not believe that there will be homeless tourists running rampant, causing chaos in Cuba. The increased revenue will allow the island to develop at pace it can handle - ideally speaking, of course.

    And I think it has the possibility of really lifting the standard of living in Cuba. While it is true that Cuba has a very good, accessible health care system, and a long life expectancy for its citizens, the standard of living as compared to America is far less than what we are used to. I am not arguing that what we have is better by any means. In fact, I would say that because their culture focuses less on a materialistic consumption of goods, they may have achieved a happiness that we cannot conceive of. But there is still room to say that they can do with a few minor improvements. Bringing money into the country would allow them to modernize a lot of things, like their cars, or housing, for example.

    The question is, where will the money go? If Cuba were a capitalist country then I think this would be an obvious benefit (again, ideally speaking.) However, since it is a communist country, I am unsure exactly how these newly made tourist profits and investments are going to get to the people. Since they are communist, I assume that the masses will benefit, but I do not claim to be an expert on the matter of the Cuban political/economic system, so I do not exactly know how this will occur. If and when this opening up of tourism to Cuba takes place, I will be curious to see who benefits the most, the people, or those few in power...

  8. This cooks my Drama Mama’s goose: Why does Cuban tourism need to meet the demands of the American Tourist? Our government is allowing US to go into THEIR country. What, besides our westernized beliefs and imperialist attitude would make us think that they should stock up on the Charmin because-Oh my God the Americans are coming. The last I checked when touring you visit for the amenities that are already there! (Whatever it was that attracted you in the first place) OK enough of the drama!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Does anyone know if the dollar will still be illegal once this tourism start or has it not been address yet? I am curious about the dynamics of the dollar to the Cuban economy.

  9. Cuba will no doubt, with new channels of traffic opening up in and out of the country, experience some different company and thus some acculturation. But the image of a tidal wave of tourists sweeping in and forcing the economy to adapt to their demands does seem too extreme. Though Cuba is indeed a forbidden fruit, I doubt that most Americans have many ideas of Cuba as an island paradise. There will be more visitors as some Americans satisfy their curiosity about what exactly they've been missing out on and Cuban-Americans visiting family members more easily. Some business owners will no doubt pay attention to the seasonal and/or long-term visitor patterns and will adapt if necessary. I don't imagine tourism itself will be the major factor in social change in Cuba.

    However, I agree with some of the others that the economic changes will be worth watching. If, as we suspect, U.S. and Cuban dollars will be able to be exchanged, how will our capitalist money interact with their communist system? We've done business with European countries that come pretty close to socialism or at least have different economic systems than us. Maybe very little will change. They've managed to do well enough without our money until now, after all.


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