Desperate for Russian tourists Cuba starts accepting Mir cards

Desperate for Russian tourists Cuba starts accepting Mir cards

HAVANA, July 26th Mir is a Russian payment system for electronic fund transfers established by the Central Bank of Russia under a law adopted on 1 May 2017.The adviser on tourism to the Cuban embassy in Russia informed the Russian official tourism body, the Association of Tour Operators of Russia (ATOR), that Russia’s Mir payment cards are now accepted by all automated teller machines (ATM) or cash machines in the island state.

Mir (Russian for ‘peace’ or ‘world’) is a Russian payment system for electronic fund transfers established by the Central Bank of Russia under a law adopted on 1 May 2017. The system is operated by the Russian National Card Payment System, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Central Bank of Russia.

Mir does not itself issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers; rather, Mir provides financial institutions with Mir-branded payment products that they then use to offer credit, debit, or other programs to their customers.

The development and implementation of Mir was spurred by the imposition of international sanctions against Russia in 2014 over its annexation and occupation of Ukrainian Crimea, to circumnavigate the reliance on the likes of Visa and Mastercard.

According to the Cuban embassy official, Russian Mir cards will be accepted at all sales outlets in the country until the end of 2022.

“The first stage, which implied accepting Mir cards by ATMs, has been completed. Until the end of 2022, as part of the second stage, Mir cards will be accepted at all points of sale in Cuba. We hope that this measure will help resume direct flights and the resumption of Russian tourist flow to Cuba,” Juan Carlos Escalona said.

According to Escalona, in 2021, Russian citizens provided the largest tourist flow to Cuba – then almost 147,000 Russians visited the country.

There have been no direct flights from Russia to Cuba since March 2022, although the Cuban government guarantees the inviolability of Aeroflot and other Russian airlines.

Currently, Russian tourists can only fly from Istanbul to Havana with one transfer. A round-trip flight will cost about 250,000 rubles ($4,142) per passenger, a representative with Russian tourism body said.

State-owned bank automated teller machines (ATMs) can be found in Havana and major tourist centers, including the popular resort of Varadero, Cuban embassy official said.

Cuba hopes that Russian tourists will return en masse in the winter season of 2022-2023.