Published as: CUBA'S TOURISM INDUSTRY TO HIRE PRIVATE CONTRACTORS
Tourism is Cuba's largest industry and in 2012 it attracted over 2.8 million visitors and raised revenue of about 3 billion dollars. However until recently, the industry was solely run by the state and despite most other industries being allowed to contract private businesses in 2012, the tourism sector remained off limits.
The new regulation that authorizes the industry to issue contracts on excursions, meals, accommodation as well as other activities was published recently in the country's official gazette, which can be accessed at www.gacetaoficial.cu. It is meant to facilitate growth of the private sector, and tourism agencies now have the authority to use over 1700 private restaurants, 5000 beds as well as private entertainment and transportation companies. Private companies can now also offer meals for workers, gardening and any other services to state owned hotels and tourism facilities.
Currently there are over 450, 000 people in Cuba either operating or working in small businesses in the accommodation, entertainment, transportation and other sectors. There are also 200 cooperatives and although tourism agencies owned by the state have been reaching out to restaurants and lodging owners in the past year, most of them, especially those operating in Havana, have expressed no interest in the contract, while very few saw it as a great business opportunity.
A Cuban economist attributed the negative reaction to the fact that during peak seasons, most private restaurants and accommodation facilities are always fully packed despite most of them having not signed a contract with the state. Read more here