lunes, agosto 28, 2006

Tourism Cuba's Ticket to Success

Tourism Cuba's Ticket to Success
China, Spain provide models for how to maintain power during economic shifts

  • Alfredo Ascanio

    During the Venezuelan TV program called the "Touching Bottom," experts discussed the economic and political future of Cuba after Fidel Castro resigns from power or dies.

    An analyst said Cuba's first opening would be towards socialism, while another analyst said with Castro's brother, Raul, in charge, it is presumable that he would launch economic reforms similar to the Chinese model. Nevertheless, no analyst considered the possibility of an economic opening based on tourism, with the support of Europeans and possibly the development of nickel by Chinese investors and petroleum by Venezuelan interests.

    Tourism saved Cuba after the collapse of the Soviet Union and communism in Eastern Europe. During the 1990s, Cuba developed its tourism with investments from Spain, Italy, and Germany. It has been a popular destination for more than 50 years.

    Tourism has produced more dollars than the sugar cane export or tobacco. Tourism promotions began in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1986, the United States allowed Cuban residents in America to travel as tourists to Cuba. In 1994, Cuba formed its Department of Tourism (MINTUR) to focus on this industry. Hotel chains were created, such as the Rumbos, the PuertoSol, the Cubanacan and the Gaviotas Tourism Group and established hotel chains such as Great Caribbean and Horizons Hotels and Islazul also arrived for business.

    Today, the average of annual growth of tourists is 14 percent, with about 2 million international tourists arriving each year, especially from Italy, Spain, Germany, and France. Tourism became a main tool to revive the economy of the island, and now makes up 17 percent of the nation's total foreign earned income.

    The trend shows that the opening of Cuba after Castro may include the rapid development of tourism.

    The experience of how the Chinese Communist Party merged with the British capitalist zone Hong Kong in 1997, and kept it as a Special Administrative Region, could be a model for other nations looking to opening their doors to world markets. Cuba would need a phased approach to opening its tourism market to develop the industry while maintaining the country's communist ideology.

    An example of such a success is Spain under Generalissimo Francisco Franco
  • , who was able to retain power during the shift
  • from an autarchic to a capitalist economic model based on tourism after World War II.

    2006/08/28 a.m 12:36
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