UPDATED: December 28, 2010
I heard a little blip on the BBC News last night that mentioned possible changes in US law in 2011 that would open up American tourism to Cuba. A little research online doesn’t reveal any more details about the BBC story, but Cuba says it’s ready to manage a sudden influx of 1 million American tourists if the U.S. Congress lifts its 47-year ban on travel to the Communist island.
As we said in our original article below, we’re happy that Cubans will have a chance to progress, but we’re concerned about what American tourism to Cuba could mean for our tourist industry.
“The threat that Cuba presents to our tourism industry cannot be overstated.”
Original BFP article first published April 5, 2009…
WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama plans to lift longstanding U.S. restrictions on Cuba, a senior administration official said, allowing Cuban-Americans to visit families there as often as they like and to send them unlimited funds…
… from the Wall Street Journal article US to lift some Cuba travel curbs
Welcome To The Next Cuban Revolution!
Unlimited funds and unlimited travel by Cuban-Americans visiting their families in Cuba.
That is all it will take to start the next Cuban revolution: an economic revolution that will eventually see Cuba developed into the Caribbean’s largest vacation and retirement destination.
If that sounds a little strong, pull out a map and have a look at the size of Cuba compared with any other Caribbean island. Coastline and beaches are what drive the Caribbean travel industry, that and the warm Caribbean sun which as you might have noticed shines equally just about everywhere in the region.
BFP’s own Cliverton has spent more time in Cuba than any other Bajan we know. Almost 3 years ago, Clive wrote about the day when Americans and their money would flow freely into Cuba. It appears that that day is beginning and Clive’s happiness for his Cuban friends is tempered with the knowledge that Cuba’s rise will not be good for Barbados and especially not good for our tourism industry.
The threat that Cuba presents to our tourism industry cannot be overstated.
Make no mistake: the combination of increased capital in the hands of ordinary Cubans and the ability of Americans to invest in small Cuban tourism projects such as bed and breakfasts will start the process of making Cuba into a super competitor in the Caribbean tourism industry.
Couple that free-flow of American dollars with the eventual impact of over 100,000 km of Cuban lands being dumped onto the free market at rock-bottom prices in an attempt to jumpstart a free Cuba’s economy and foreign investment.
This move by President Obama is probably the most important news touching Barbados and its economy that we have heard in weeks – potentially of far greater long-term importance to Barbados than the current economic crisis. It will be interesting to see whether or not the Barbadian news media and government recognize its importance.
BFP April 16, 2006: Cuba after Castro. What does it mean for Barbados?