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Travel and Tourism in Cuba

Tushar Bhatia (C1) Mr Jost Contemporary Issues

INTRODUCTION Cuba as an island there has been various tourism activities attracting a number of tourists. Cuba is situated between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, thus there is no doubt that the image of Cuba is always with fantastic coast side and crystal clear water. Sunset, sand and sea (3S) are definitely the treasures of Cuba which is able to bring many tourism businesses. Needless to say that owner of Cuba tourism also relatively encourages tourism business to the country. Due to the fact that Cuba is one of the safest countries with minimal crime so that tourists are taken care by police. Havana the capital of Cuba, it is also known as a live museum which accompanies many different architectural styles which are there from 16th century the beginnings of Spanish colonisation. Cuban tourism started developing in the 1990s (Cubatourism.2010). Tourism in Cuba also contributes to the demand of goods and services provided by the locals and private sector. Cuba is also one of the fastest developing destinations for Ecotourism, and from five years the number of tourists has more than doubled. (Eturbonews, 2009) This paper examines the growth of Cuban tourism and its impact on the economy and considers the future of the industry in Cuba. It also includes discussion about the political, economic and social and technological issues in Cuba and the development in each section (Value Based Management, 2010).

Past and Present In 1990s the tourism industry in Cuba was not strong even after high promotional strategies and the restrictions for the American hindered the local tourism which had a really negative impact on the Cuban tourism as well as the local economy.( Peters P,2002) But after a decade tourism in Cuba increased rapidly. The infrastructure was also developed because of the increasing tourist arrivals. In 2008 Cuba experienced tremendous growth in the tourism sector compared to the previous years. In 2008 tourism sector of Cuba generated 2.7 billion dollars

which is 13.5% more than 2007. Around 2.35 million tourists visited which is 9.3% more compared to tourist arrivals in 2007. And the industry earned 326 million dollars from the tourism industry that year.2008 was the strongest year for the Cuban tourism while there was decrease in other Caribbean destinations. The reason behind the growth was that tourists could buy cheap and reasonable travel packages, and growth of promotional strategies as well as the growth of tourism infrastructure. The reason behind low tourist arrival before 2008 was poor services, lack of infrastructure and so on.(USAToday,2009) In 2009, only 3.6% growth was recorded which is less compared to 2008. (Cuba Headlines.2010) In 2010, growth was stable around 3.3% but this year the government has decided to increase the tourism infrastructures like hotels and resorts to attract more tourists. Which will help Cuba to increase tourism and it will positively effect on its economy.( Cubarentroom,2010) FUTURE OF TOURISM IN CUBA Cuba is a growing destination for Eco-tourism and it is predicted that it will attract more tourists in future. "We will always be a sun and sand destination," he said. "But we want to diversify. Eco-tourism is the future." (Alexis Trujillo, 2009). Trujillo predicts that Cuba will attract 3 per cent more tourists compared to last years. Cuba is expecting environment conscious tourists, who will like to pay premium prices and spend more time compared to a normal vacation. Ecotourists not only emphasis on nature but they also focus on culture and try to make as less negative impact as possible on the environment (Eturbonews, 2009). To develop more hospitality infrastructure the government decided to allow foreign investment in tourism to build golf courses, hotels and restaurants (BBC.2010)

DISCUSSION Cuba has many political issues with America regarding the restrictions which is a negative aspect for Cuban tourism industry. Tourism industry also affects the economic condition and technological development in Cuban tourism. This discussion will focus on political, economic, social, technological issues in Cuba.(Value Based Management,2010) PoliticalCuba has always been in limelight for political issues in travel and tourism mainly for visa restrictions for Americans which has hindered tourism in Cuba. Americans can freely travel to any country in the world except Cuba (Mark P. 2009). These restrictions are imposed many years ago but these days the situation is getting better because president Obama eased some restrictions for the Cuban-Americans, To visit there family and for remittances from which the Cuban travel can be more flexible. Studies showed that 67% of Americans wants these restrictions to be eased and 72% agrees that it will have a positive impact on Cuban tourism (Vegabondjourney. 2010). If the restrictions are lifter the tourists arrival can grow up to 1 million (Michael. A, 2009). Apart from American-Cuban issues Cuba has maintained a good relationship with other countries which is having a positive impact on Cuban tourism. The better future of Cuba lies in the improving political relationship with the U.S.A. EconomicalTourism in Cuba is really important for the growth of Cuban economy not only because it generates lots of revenues but it also creates opportunities for the local businesses and it also generates employment (Michael. A, 2009). The contribution of local market has been increased a lot during a decade now it contributes around 70% to the industry when there is tourism more than 2.5 million(Crespo.N and Negrn.S,2007). It is difficult to make separate evaluation of these figures but official accounts and observation has proved that the contribution of local sales to tourism has increased significantly. A report of council of Ministers shows that 41$ million were spent in tourism purchases in 2001 February and next year they recorded $36 million was

generated by tourism in Cuba. And above everything it generates employment and it increases awareness and education. (Peters P,2002) One of the main sources of revenues is cruise industry. Cuba welcomes around 80,000 cruise tourists, now the government is trying to encourage more cruises. Not only cruises but hotels, and local restaurants contribute a lot to the economy of Cuba (Peters P,2002). Social Tourism in a country affects socially. Social issues are always discussed widely; there are both positive and negative social impacts because of tourism. It increases the standard of living in a community, community is more stable, and tourism also helps to spread a culture of a country these were some of the positive impacts of tourism socially. But everything has it pros and cons, so tourism can also have some negative impacts as well, increase in corruption and illegal activities, ignorance of social values of a country. Sometimes other industries cannot coordinate with tourism industry; it creates a lot of pollution which is not good for environment and the local people. The other important aspect of society is security a country should have enough security system that can protect the tourist which is really beneficial for a tourism destination like Cuba. If a destination has high cultural values and well developed security system, tourism will grow rapidly and will positively affect the economy and the society (M. Gonzalez, G.J. Cabrera, S. Catasus, M. Font, N. Pagliccia.2007) Technological Technology is improving day by day and it affects tourism positively as there are many services provided these days on the internet like online booking, destination information, and visa enquiry as so on which has made tourists life much easier. Everything is on their fingertips. The investment of government in technology plays a really important role in growth of tourism. But there are some negative impacts as well tourists can be easily cheated as well as while payment for any hotel or flights. More or less growth in technology can have a greater impact on tourism (Jolly,D,Demanche,F,2009).

CONCLUSION Cuba is one of the magnificent Caribbean destinations, and it attracts more of those tourists which are interested in nature and history, since 2008 the tourism industry in Cuba in growing constantly. Though it has some political issues with the USA which is hindering tourism but still tourism in Cuba is growing every year. In future it is predicted that it will come up as a destination for Eco-Tourism, health tourism and heritage tourism which will directly or indirectly have a positive impact on the economy and the society. Whereas, new promotional strategies can be adopted to increase tourism in Cuba For example Three Agencies were sponsored by the government Intar, Cubanacan and Gaviota so as to support the tourism and development of hotels (Michael. A, 2009). The government has decided to invest more in tourism infrastructure like more hotels and restaurants, better transport facilities Etc. Easing of restrictions for Cuban Americans and also having freedom of remittance will also help Cuban tourism to grow. Introduction of more cruise lines and better service will be one more source of generating revenues. Due to growth of tourism in Cuba there will be more opportunities for local businesses as well individuals to get employment. We can expect more tourism business in Cuba if the conflicts between Cuba and USA are resolved. And with the development of infrastructure will surely increase tourism in Cuba.

Recommendations For a place like Cuba where tourism is growing really fast development of tourism infrastructure is really important more hotels and local restaurants and better security facilities can help in growth of tourism and economy in Cuba. Good relationship with the USA can also help in growth of Cuban tourism industry.

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