Cuba invested 533% more in tourism than in education, health and agriculture in 2023

Cuba invested 533% more in tourism than in education, health and agriculture in 2023

HAVANA, March 29. Cuba concentrated just over a third of its total investments in 2023 in the tourism sector, a figure that was also 533% greater than what was allocated to health,education and agriculture together, according to data from the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).

In absolute terms, the island allocated 32,371.2 million Cuban pesos (1,349 million dollars, at the official exchange rate) to tourism, 33.5% of the 96,622 million Cuban pesos (4,026 million dollars) spent last year.

The figure contrasts with the 2,996.7 million Cuban pesos (125 million dollars) in agriculture; the 1,770.8 million Cuban pesos (73.8 million dollars) in public health and the 1,339.4 million (55.8 million dollars) in education.
With respect to these areas, the expenditure on tourism was 11, 18 and 24 times greater, respectively.

The island is mired in a deep crisis, exacerbated for almost four years by the combination of the pandemic, US sanctions and errors in macroeconomic and monetary management.

As a consequence, the Caribbean country suffers from shortages of basic products, rampant inflation and partial dollarization.

In recent years, the island Government has stressed that tourism – considered an engine of the economy – will be a fundamental part of economic recovery. However, the country has not matched pre-pandemic levels of international visitors, which in 2019 were around 4.5 million.

The Government has set the goal of receiving 3.2 million tourists this year.

On the other hand, independent Cuban economists have criticized the high level of investment in the construction and expansion of hotels to the detriment of other strategic areas in crisis, such as agriculture.

Currently, Cuba imports 80% of the food it consumes, according to United Nations data. However, the lack of foreign currency from the State has made it increasingly difficult to supply the national market.

The Government has also indicated that it dedicates more than 2,000 million a year to bringing from abroad the products that it includes, heavily subsidized, in the supply book (ration card).

In addition, the shortage of basic supplies in the formal market has skyrocketed prices in the informal market, something that has been contributed by the collapse of the peso and the arrival of small private companies whose prices tend to be, in the case of some products, even by above the state average salary.