Cuba recently announced the arrival of tourist number 3 million, 75 days earlier than in 2016. We asked our Business Intelligence consultant if given Cuban context and beyond numbers, tourism should remain one of the core sectors of Cuban economy. This was what Juan Triana, PhD in Economic Sciences and Head of the Center for Studies of the Cuban Economy told us at University of Havana.

Cuba was, is and will be a favorite tourist destination. It has natural and acquired advantages to remain so and there is no reason to look at tourism as something temporary, or “small-scale” or as a sector that condemns us to live from these so-called “natural advantages”.

What we should not do is tie ourselves to those natural advantages. In the same way, coming from my ignorance, I believe that the strategic goal of the Ministry of Tourism should be to improve its position in the value chain of this global service. That is, to go from receiving tourists to “design” and “sell” tourism industry know-how, while still receiving tourists.

Compared to the dynamics of this industry on a global scale, Cuba has been one of the fastest growing destinations in the last three years, if not the fastest.

Tourism must be one of the engines (not the only) of future economic growth for Cuba without any doubt. Even so when it comes to more modest projection of growth. But in order to achieve this, tourism needs Cuba. If we could only produce 40% of what a 5 star hotel room needs and 60% of what a tourist consumes in our hotels the impact of tourism would be much higher.

To make this possible the most important thing is to achieve a greater “multiplier effect” of tourism on the economy and a better insertion of the territories (and of the provincial and local governments) in programs of tourism development.

Let us take a very questioned example, the cruises. A cruise of 2000 passengers landing in Cuban port and making overnight, needs at least 2 breakfasts (4 000 thousand breakfasts), 8 meals (16 000 meals), probably about 3 liters of drinking water (6 000 liters) and a variable amount of soft drinks, beers and natural juices.

Multiply this by the number of cruises and by the amount of times that a single cruise lands and we will have a huge demand for the national economy. I have not counted the services associated with garbage and general waste, which are big business. So, tourism has put us cruises in the ports, it is left to the Ministries that are the owners of the companies to seize the opportunity. Do they? Do they have any projection?

To activate (reactivate) the financing system that stimulates all national companies (wheather they’d be state-owned, co-ops or from the private sector) to produce for tourism industry while competing with foreign suppliers could greatly contribute to tourism having a greater effect on National economy.

And of course, it is necessary to improve the incentives for workers in this industry. it cannot be that those who work in this sector do not receive the corresponding incentives.

However, once again the US administration variable is relevant. The Trump Administration has announced regulations that can affect the dynamics of tourism, especially in the private sector and especially in some tourism centers, such as Havana, Trinidad or Viñales, and in general in the cities and capitals of the country. That is because part of U.S. visitors practice that modality known as “city tourism”. Nevertheless, I think that in the medium term, companies that are currently involved in the movement of U.S. visitors to Cuba will find a way to compensate for such measures.