Thursday, June 28, 2007

From our tourist desk

The Castro regime, which now depends significantly on that most capitalist of evils, tourism, to stay afloat economically, has finally admitted that things are not going as well as expected.

In fact, tourist numbers have dropped substantially over the past couple of years but until now, the regime has blamed the drop in visitors on the US commercial and trade embargo. As usual.

However, according to this Reuters report, the Minister for Tourism, Manuel Marrero, has now admitted that there are indeed other reasons.

Like prohibitive landing fees for foreign aircraft (now reduced by 20 per cent), lack of investment in infrastructure (really?), and growing competition from neighbouring tourist destinations.

As one unnamed foreign operator remarked, package and hotel rates are up to 20 per cent cheaper in the neighbouring Dominican Republic.

And while Cuban rates are similar to those in Cancun, the service and facilities there are “far superior”.

One other issue the regime is only now addressing – and only on the quiet: airport theft.

With little public fanfare, the national carrier, Cubana, has started plastic wrapping all luggage.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Walter Lippmann said...

Cuba has lots of problems, but they are trying to address them, from what all reports emanating from inside the country suggest.


("We are not talking about the Chinese model, but a Cuban model, the best way forward given Cuba's possibilities, realities, resources and problems," Osvaldo Martinez, the head of parliament's economic commission, recently said.) ====================================================================

Cuban Communists Seek Better Business Practices

The Cuban Communist Party has concluded a nationwide survey on how state-run businesses might operate more efficiently.

Reuters Published: June 25, 2007 16:54h http://www.javno.com/en/world/clanak.php?id=56664

The Cuban Communist Party has concluded a nationwide survey on how state-run businesses might operate more efficiently, increasing expectations for change under acting Cuban president and party leader Raul Castro.

Party members from factories, hotels, transportation and other sectors were surveyed on the problems they faced in the largely state-run economy, said various government and academic sources who asked not to be identified.

"We were asked how we would solve the problems without raising our budgets," one party member said. "We were told to express our views absolutely freely and that is what we did."

Cuba's economy has been growing rapidly thanks to economic cooperation with oil-rich Venezuela, high nickel prices and soft trade credits from China.

But major industries such as tourism and agriculture have declined, state wages remain low compared with prices, bureaucracy and corruption have led to poor productivity, wasted resources and popular frustration.

Cuba's long-time leader, Fidel Castro, temporarily ceded power to his brother and defense minister, Raul Castro, last July 31 after undergoing abdominal surgery for an undisclosed illness.

Fidel Castro has not appeared in public since, although he has taken to writing opinion pieces and holding more frequent and longer meetings with foreign visitors in recent months.

RAUL CASTRO TAKING INITIATIVE

Raul, who is four years younger than his 80-year-old brother, has lived up to his reputation as a pragmatic, no-nonsense administrator.

He surveyed the public last year and declared food prices, transportation and housing Cuba's biggest challenges, ordering that plans to tackle them be drawn up for a parliament meeting this week.

The government recently eased some immigration rules and restrictions on bringing DVD players, car parts and other items into the country.

"I'm encouraged, the government is clearly listening to us and tackling key issues," a party member said.

Western diplomats and many experts believe Fidel Castro's improving health might slow or even stop Raul Castro's efforts.

"From one year to the next the standard of living can be improved by raising knowledge, self-esteem and the dignity of people. It will be enough to reduce wastage and the economy will grow," Castro wrote last week, in apparent reference to the economic debate.

"With Fidel still on the scene, if only in the background, the Raulistas' interest and strategic need to reform and modernize the economy in order to establish a new base of legitimacy and governance is not possible," said Frank Mora, a Cuba expert at the National War College in Washington.

Cuban officials insist there are no significant differences between the Castros, who have led the country since 1959, and the need to improve performance comes because the economic situation has improved.

"We are not talking about the Chinese model, but a Cuban model, the best way forward given Cuba's possibilities, realities, resources and problems," Osvaldo Martinez, the head of parliament's economic commission, recently said.

9:34 pm  

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