New US Policy: The First Step To Making Cuba A Caribbean Travel Industry Powerhouse

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.

Cuban beaches are as pretty as anywhere, and Cubans are generally more friendly than Bajans!

Cuban beaches are as pretty as anywhere, and Cubans are generally more friendly than Bajans!

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.

Further Reading

BFP April 16, 2006: Cuba after Castro. What does it mean for Barbados?

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45 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Cuba, Offshore Investments, Politics, Tourism, Travel, Traveling and Tourism

45 responses to “New US Policy: The First Step To Making Cuba A Caribbean Travel Industry Powerhouse

  1. passin thru

    Cubans more friendly (friendlier) than BAJANS?

    Yes they are, and they work harder because after living under communism they instantly spot opportunities for profit making on the side.

  2. Hants

    The Americans can’t wait to create a new profit centre. Gambling and prostitution will return to Cuba.

  3. Hants

    The future of Cuba. games of chance. ladies of the night.

  4. waxman

    100% on the money
    Cuba will be the Caribbean juggernaut. The UK is and will remain Barbados’ most natural ‘feeder’ (unfortunately the UK economy is $%^!, and will remain that way for some time). Barbados may have been just spared a tax haven label by the OECD, but without a doubt the twin pillars of tourism and offshore finance will be under unprecedented pressure in the years to come.

  5. passin thru

    Hants,

    You are only partially correct. Along with the casinos and prostitutes there will be retirement communities — hundreds of them. Cuba has an incredible amount of land and hundreds and hundreds of miles of beautiful beaches.

    If they can keep order and avoid the gangsterization of the nation as happened to Russia and Eastern Europe when communism collapsed, Cuba will be unstoppable.

    The country is large enough that it will be able to absorb far more visitors without getting the “tourist burnout” that we see with Barbadians in the service industries. The attitudes of Cubans and Barbadians towards tourists are miles apart and the Cubans win hands down.

    With the money to build new projects, and the support of American Cuban families Cuba will be a tourist juggernaut.

  6. Adrian L. Charles

    Well said.

  7. The Truth

    Let’s keep in mind that Cuba gets quite “cold” in height of the tourist season when all those lovely beaches are largely unswimmable. And, if Yucatan/Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas didn’t put Barbados out of business, Cuba is much too late to the table to cause us sleepless nights. The current global economic crisis has taught us that we are all fishing in the same pond for tourism development dollars and those dollars are not limitless. Cuba will get it share and so will Barbados. We need to worry about the real competition in our region – St. Lucia – not an imaginary one a thousand miles away.

  8. Anonymous

    I think we’ve failed to consider Cuba’s response. Cuba does have strict laws regarding foreign investment and ownership and I don’t think we should discredit the longevity of these restrictions.

  9. Sister Baby

    I personally would not visit Cuba, and I don’t think they are too friendly anyway, plus I do not speak Spanish. I think Barbados is a niche market, a special kind of tourist comes to Barbados, not any and all sorts. I much rather be in Little England than Little Russia, plus Barbados is just beautiful.

  10. Pat

    Right you are. However the laws have not restricted foreign investment to date. All foreign projects are owned 51% by the Cuban government. After a year of operation, only one manager can be non-Cuban. Does Barbados have anything to compare? What about foreign language training? All hotels in Cuba have class rooms where staff are taught other languages. I sat in on a german class at my resort.

  11. Pat

    Cuba is cold but only at night, but then, so too is Jamaica. The water is warm and swimmable even in the evenings.

  12. Pat

    They are very friendly and courteous. They beat Bajans hands down for hospitality. Contrary to popular opinion, many speak English and others are learning English and other languages. I do not speak Spanish and I have managed there very well on several occasions.

    Barbados may be beautiful, but Cuba, Jamaica, Grenada, Dominica, etc., are much more beautiful. Just visit and see for yourself.

  13. reality check

    equal opportunity —just like Las Vegas , except you forgot drugs.

    Barbados does not have casinos yet but just about everything else including corruption

    This is the seemier part of the free flow of capital without any strong moral authority. Lets see how long Cuba can avoid these pitfalls and make sure that their investment base is more responsibly driven.

  14. love barbados

    Cuba is pretty cold in winter but it’s very cheap— as low as $1000 Bds. for a week with flights and meals and hotel—which is an attraction for Canadians.

    FYI there was a huge, four-colour ad for Barbados in Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper, which offered huge discounts.

    So I would say there’s a problem with the number of visitors from Canada in the light of the recent Long Beach attack, etc…

  15. PiedPiper

    Cuba cold? Cuba only seems cold to those who customarily live in climates that on average have day time temperatures of 28-30C. To North Americans and Europeans, Cuba is anything but cold.
    Secondly, Cubans do not have this big time hang up about blacks and whites. They are a more racially mixed society and therefore don’t give one hoot about what colour you are. Barbados, on the other hand, seems to be becoming more racist every day and white tourists no longer feel as welcomed or safe as they once did.
    If Obama follows through, Cuba is on it’s way to being a huge vacation destination. Cuba has always been the island of choice for Canadians and many Europeans as well and soon Americans will be flocking there.

  16. Anonymous

    PP, you say Cuba is not racist? Ha!

  17. Iriebrown

    As far as I understand it, after Cuba had its problems is when the rest of the Caribbean opened up. We flourished on Cuba’s downfall.

    The Caribbean as a whole has gone from strength to strength. Some islands are more popular than others but generally we have our own tourism product to sell apart from sea and sun. But the latter sure works to our advantage.

    We can all survive once Bajans themselves truly begin to understand that the people are as much of our product as the sea and sun.

    But value for money is another facet that needs addressing in B’dos, especially in a world that is facing recession. Do we really comprehend that? I think not.

    These are some of the more pressing questions about our survival in the tourism industry. And it will all become a part of the whole picture if and when Cuba becomes an equal player in our region

    It’s in our hands.

  18. PiedPiper

    Once again I must say how much I love “Anonymous” posters. Let us make sure we are on the same page Anonymous. I have been to Cuba 3 times. I am well aware that within Cuba and amongst it’s own citizens there is racism. Black Cubans are not treated the same way as Spanish white or light skinned Spanish/Black mixed within it’s OWN society. However, in Cuba, white tourists are treated with courtesy by all races and are not subjected to the kind of begrudging and insincere courtesy to their faces in Barbados and behind their backs, open racist comments. Don’t say it doesn’t happen or that if it does, not often. I saw this type of behavior frequently.

  19. Sargeant

    How do you know what individual Cubans say about tourists behind their backs? Are you privy to their private conversations?

  20. Eve

    Just returned from 2 weeks in the Dominican Republic – or should I say “Little Canada”! I was amazed to see the number of Canadians vacationing there. England and Germany rounded out the top 3. Most of the hotels on the island were completely booked! Looking around the resorts one actually asked – is there really a recession???
    I would be very concerned if I worked in the Barbados tourist industry. Sorry to say, my once favorite destination has failed me. Yes, sooner rather than later Cuba will dominate Caribbean tourism. Americans are especially itching to experience all that Cuba has to offer.

  21. love barbados

    I agree with the previous posting. Canadians in particular are flocking to the Dominican Republic and Cuba–not Barbados, which they consider expensive and, thanks to the most recent news, dangerous. Something the BTA should be worried about for sure because people often go where others want to go.

  22. Iriebrown

    Eve,

    I’m sorry but the Dominican Republic is for the Spanish (and those) who want to have a somewhat tropical experience so they go to Dom.Rep poss. mainly because of the language and the airlift. But it is very cheap and the people however are very genuine and helpful.

    I’m not saying the island isn’t pretty but the sea is not as turquoise as it is in B’dos and the beaches not as white. Also one has to be careful in some areas which is so in most places. A lot of the hotels are all-inclusive, and I’m not talking like Sandals, the buffets are absolutely monotonous. Even the other restaurants on property are nothing to write home about. But the most important criterion is that the water makes you ill. And I mean quite ill sometimes. Even when one is careful, you can never be careful enough. You still get ill. And I’m talking from experience in a very nice hotel. I wasn’t alone.

    Yes it might be good enough for the mass market but definietly not for the high end. There is no comparison between the Dom Rep and B’dos for the moment, we are by far superior.

    We can only wait to see what the future holds.

  23. Pat

    Barbados is indeed superior to the Dom. Rep., but it is the Dominion Republic that gets the Canadian tourists. My son just returned to Canada after attending a wedding there. The water is indeed bad and the food mediocre. They also have malaria and he is still on medication. This, however, does not deter Canadians who like a bargain.

    Allegations are that two Montrealers died last year after contracting malaria there and was not properly diagnosed.

    With regard to beaches, it does not matter if the sand is white, brown or black. What matters is that there is sand and the beach is not rocky like Europe, and the surf is safe from white sharks.

  24. Eve

    My recent trip was to the Dom.Rep, but I have also witnessed the tourist surge in Mexico, St. Lucia, Puerto Rico and Dominica to name a few.
    Most of the tourists were from England and Germany. Many of them spoke of Cuba as being their favorite destination spot for vacation.
    I’m not sure if in today’s economy an elite vacation destination is viable for the majority. Even people with mega-portfolios have seen their fortunes cut in half. Yes, Barbados is far superior in my mind as well, but realistically, there are many, many other choices out there.

  25. yatinkiteasy

    Went to Dominican Rebublic last year on a Cruise,..one day was enough..there is Garbage EVERYWHERE, including the key tourist sites the bus went to. The whole highway seemed to be a dump…for MILES!..no competition!
    All inclusive resorts are fine..but the drive to them is a real eye opener..its like driving through a garbage dump!

  26. Pat

    My son was horrified by the garbage as well. His tour guide told him the garbage trucks come sometimes only once a year, so people discard everywhere. Lots of people have no bathrooms and apparently squat beside the road or under the nearest tree. yuck…

  27. Eve

    Yes sooo true but have you seen the garbage in Barbados?? On the beaches?? The appliances? BFP has posted many of the pictures. Lets get back to the original post concerning Cuba – it is a reality.

  28. Green Monkey

    Barbados rapidly seems to be heading this way too. Might be not as bad yet, but give it a few more years.

    Just today as I was driving into Bridgetown and heading down My Lord’s Hill towards town I was marveling at the amount of trash and litter I saw lining the road. The accumulation of unsightly litter was especially prevalent around the bus stops (as is the case all over the island).

    I noticed some crews have recently been cutting back the grass on the road side between Sunbury plantation (a significant tourist attraction) and the St. Philip parish church, a route well traveled by tourist buses etc. As the grass was cut back all the litter carelessly pitched out of car windows and which was previously hidden by the tall grass came into view in all its glory lining the side of the road for ourselves and our visitors to admire.

    Just walk or bicycle along any country road in Barbados and you will probably be amazed at the amount of garbage that is laying in the ditches or in the grass at the side of the road. Most of it you just never see if you are zipping by in a metal cocoon at 40 mph.

    And of course we all know the stories of the widespread illegal dumping of everything from clapped our refrigerators to old engine blocks or rusted out car bodies and dead animals into our gullies.

    its like driving through a garbage dump!

    To be honest, I sometimes get that feeling when I am out driving around in Barbados these days.

  29. Eve

    Looks like my previous comment was posted before green monkey’s but listed afterwards by BFP, hence the repetition!
    In total agreement and thanks for the validation regarding the garbage issue on Barbados.

  30. victor

    The D.R. is beautifuI and the peopIe are friendIy but it is a much poorer country and just does not have the same IeveI of infrastructure, water, utiIities, etc. that Barbados has. Garbage coIIection is the Ieast of their probIems but hopefuIIy increased tourist cash might heIp. It’s more dangerous outside the aII incIusives and there are big probIems with soIicting and the sex trade. Barbados on the other hand, is not a third worId country, has an educated popuIation and a generaIIy exceIIent infrastructure. That makes the rubbish dumping from dirty nappies on the beaches to junk chucked out of car windows and the iIIegaI dumping of stuff even more horribIe and fooIish. There is no excuse for this and it is mainIy Bajans rubbishing up the country.

  31. Sister Baby

    Wait a second Pied Piper, you must talking about another country. Those so-called white Cubans are racist beyond I don’t know what to say. They have a little whiteness in them and they think they are the Queen of England. The ones I have met are racist, and made me feel inferior, plus they talk your names in Spanish in front of you, they have no manners. I have no use for them, like the so-called white Cuban I told that Guyana had the best rum in the world, and she said, she knew all the rum families of the Caribbean, and then she named off some names, like a Mr. Bacardi, Mr. Bettancourt or something like that, but then said, she had never heard of Mr. Guyana. Please spare me Piper, the Cubans are racist.

  32. Rumplestilskin

    As stated in earlier discussions, sometime back, there is no doubt that a rejuvenated Cuba will take the bulk of US Tourism.

    Massive golf resorts, casinos, sightseeing and all at a much better value proposition, will indeed be unstoppable.

    Maybe it is time to invest a few dollars on land there, what is the rule for non-national ownership?

    Better to own a few apartments there, rented out, in a developing economy, than nothing here, at the local prices, that we average bajans cannot afford.

    Peace & Live Strong

  33. Iriebrown

    Very true. And when Bajans go to big countries on holiday they fall into line, ie. throw garbage in garbage bins. Why then does it not happen at home? Why this lack of pride in their own country.

    I think people should have on the spot fines for throwing garbage on the road. Or better still have to do hours of picking up garbage as their punishment. Buses should have no food/no drink allowed.

    It would soon stop.

  34. Anonymous

    President Obama should not follow through, afterall, the Cuban Americans did not vote for him, they voted for McCain, so I say just leave them lingering.

  35. Anonymous

    As long as white people are happy and given preferential treatment all is well with people like Pied Piper. No wonder he fled from B’dos to the “great north”! The election of Obama must be leading to some sleepless nights for him. By the way Pied Piper you are posting anonymously just like the majority of us.

  36. PiedPiper

    “Anonymous” aka Diggit: Do not assume that you know what I think or feel about racism. Do not take my post and twist my words to suit your obsession with Patrick Porter. You seem to have a major axe to grind with Patrick. Wuh happen anyways? Patrick steal yuh woman?
    It is a pity that Patrick doesn’t frequent the blogs anymore because you really need to tek up yuh fire rage with he.

  37. Diggit

    Good thing someone just told me to check out BFP and read how the Pied Piper (assumed female half of Sargeant) accused ME, Diggit, of being one “Anonymous”. Well, BFP can verify from my ISP (on Anonymouse.org) that I am NOT Anonymouse with whom you have a problem. I don’t waste time with you anymore. You will no doubt soon revert to your old habit of using foul language and crudity, like when BFP had to delete one of your nasty, revolting comments.

    No, you didn’t tief a woman from me – I doubt if a woman would leave me for a gin/wine-sodden sicko like you! If you think some other people on here don’t know exactly who you are, think again. By the way, I do NOT get involved with the race issue, so go bark up another tree. What a scammy con artist you are – I think you even have BFP fooled. Go have your fourth glass of gin or wine. Cheers.

  38. victor

    Going back to Cuba. We are in a time when there is a huge movement of peopIe, aII over the worId. Before, Africans were bought and soId as sIaves. Now they rush to get to Europe, risking their Iives and often Iosing them, on boats as they struggIe to get to Europe. MeanwhiIe Mexicans choose to regain Iands which were once their own in CaIifornia. The US government tries to buiId a waII! How mad is that!? In Europe we have peopIe who for 50 years were not even aIIowed to Ieave their country on pain of death and were shot down if they tried to. PeopIe in Barbados compIain about Guyanese immigrants yet these peopIe probabIy are more ethnicaIIy Carribean than the IocaI popuIation! There are wars going on aII over the worId right now and those of us who are not actuaIIy at war shouId be very gratefuI and try to focus about just what to do. PeopIe compIain that there have been sackings in Bbs by profitabIe companies. I say Iook at the bigger picture, Iook around the worId, Iucky Bbds has not yet feIt the icy grip of recession yet, pIan for the future and maybe don’t Iay off , just reduce hours.

  39. Diggit

    BFP, I replied to PiedPiper who accused me of being one “Anonymous”, with whom he (who calls himself “she”), had a beef, but you did not publish my comment. May I ask why? Check the ISP and you will see that I am not “Anonymous”. I use Anonymouse.org, which, according to you I am allowed to do.

  40. PiedPiper

    Hahhahaha, man you are really in need of some assistance from a Doctor. To suggest there are people other than your self that know who I am is comical indeed. Prior to our brief respite from your delusional and obsessive mind, you were caught red handed by BFP using multiple names and having conversations with yourself here on BFP. You have no credibility with anyone and you seem to live in a fantasy world.
    I feel pity for you because clearly you have some kind of mental health issue. I am tired of telling you that I am not who you think I am and furthermore, I am female. Please leave me alone as I am now starting to think you are a mentally ill person who is a stalker.

  41. PiedPiper

    BFP: Was this Diggitt person not banned from BFP?

    ***********

    BFP say

    Under what name? If people comeback wit a new name and behalve themself we mostly dont know it is them again.

  42. PiedPiper

    BFP: They we using this same moniker only with two “t”s I believe “Diggit(t) and other monikers. BFP staff posted and told Diggitt why he was banned. And as for behaving, this individual is doing the same thing as before, using different names and having conversations with themselves in order to fuel their ridiculous belief that I am Patrick Porter, which I am not.

  43. Diggit

    BFP: As far as I know I was NOT banned. I may have been EXPOSED for a discrepancy – fair enough. However, I felt the need to defend myself against an outright lie by PiedPiper that I posted as “Anonymous” a day or two ago, or that I have been having conversations with myself (which is his forte) under different names. But I’m not going to waste readers’ time on here with this cat and mouse foolishness; instead I am going to send you an e-mail and give you the FACTS as I KNOW them.

  44. ross

    Cuba is actually a really popular destination for UK holidaymakers. Having worked in the travel industry for a few years, i noticed a very high amount of searches made…

    directline-holidays.

  45. HM

    A lot of tourists are already travelling to Cuba. Once it really opens up there will be intense competition. Pristine beaches, interesting culture, competitive prices etc. Tourists and investors will be flocking there, for sure.