Cuba (again) against tourism: ban on cash payments

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The Cuban government has made it compulsory to pay by mail or by transfer called Transferovile managed by the Central Bank. The decision, taken by the executive of communist Miguel Díaz-Canel, comes both to fight against tax evasion and to combat the shortage of banknotes caused in part by galloping inflation (46% in April 2023) and the constant devaluation of the local currency, the Cuban peso.

Díaz-Canel had also banned payments in foreign currencies, to fight against the black market in US dollars which the State lacks.

The result of this decision is unfortunately detrimental to tourists. The island does not have sufficiently stable Internet connections to ensure the proper functioning of POS terminals, leading to continued payment difficulties in stores and commercial establishments. Unable to accept cash payments and not having a functional point of sale, tourists often abandon their purchases, thus worsening the economic situation of the island.

In addition, the country remains very far from its objectives in terms of number of travelers

Cuba received more than 1.8 million international visitors between January and September this year, representing an increase of more than two thirds compared to the same period of 2022, as reported “Oficina Nacional de Estadística e Información Cuba” (Cuba Statistics Office).

A government objective impossible to achieve

The figure suggests, however, that it will be difficult for the country to meet the government’s target of 3.5 million international visitors for the whole of 2023, as in the first nine months they barely exceeded half of this digit.

Canadians are the first tourists to go to Cuba

The main tourist-emitting countries are Canada (709,555), the United States (126,600), Russia (120,065), Spain (69,412), Germany (49,674) and France (45 650), all with year-over-year increases between 111 and 218%.%.

In addition, the Cuban community abroad brought 269,890 travelers and residents of the island added 559,305 flights, bringing the total number of travelers between January and September to 2,373,455 people.

2023 will be better than 2022

According to ONEI data, the first months of 2023 were much better compared to the previous year.

If in January of this year almost 250,000 foreign travelers were registered (compared to less than 100,000 in the same month of 2022), in September there were just over 147,000 compared to almost 100,000 at the same time of year last.

The total number of visitors received so far in 2023 represents 75.5% of what was expected for that date and only 55% of those who traveled to the country in the first nine months of 2019, as reported explained the head of Economy and Planning. Alejandro Gil, at the last council of ministers.

Tourism is the second largest contributor to GDP

Tourism, previously the main engine of the Cuban economy, is the key to the economic recovery of the island, mired for more than two years in a serious economic crisis, with a great shortage of basic products (food, fuel and medicines). ) and a high level of inflation.

The tourism sector is the second largest contributor to gross domestic product (GDP) and third largest source of foreign exchange, after professional services and remittances, according to estimates by various independent experts.

Its location contrasts with similar destinations in the region, such as Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Cancún.

Catherine Mills Avatar