Havana Consulting Group sees “great uncertainty” about the future of tourism in Cuba

Havana Consulting Group sees "great uncertainty" about the future of tourism in CubaHAVANA, July 31th Global tourism to Cuba fell by 5.67% in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period of 2017 and in the case of American tourists, the fall was 23.6%, according to a study published today by a US consultancy

The Havana Consulting Group (THCG), specialized in analyzing the Cuban economy, considers that the first semester of 2018 has been “traumatic and devastating” for the Cuban tourist industry due to the combination of “bad practices and countless accumulated unresolved problems” .

According to the THCG data, there have been drops in all the “strategic markets” for the Cuban tourist industry: Canada (-8%), USA. (-23.6%), France (-4.3%), Germany (-15.5%), United Kingdom (-8.8%), Italy (-21%) and Spain (-0.9%) ).

The number of tourists who visited Cuba from January 1 to June 30 was 2.5 million, which means a decrease of 5.67% (more than 150,000 fewer tourists)

In the case of the Americans, 82,269 tourists were less than in the same period of 2017 (348,713) and, according to THCG, among other factors, the restrictions imposed on individual trips and the alleged “sonic attacks” on US diplomats island.

He also had to see the “prohibition of lodging in hotels under the structure of the Cuban Armed Forces” imposed by the Trump Administration, according to the report “The Cuban tourism industry in the eye of the storm?”.

In the case of the US, if the contraction was not greater, the report points out, it is due to the increase in trips to the Caribbean island of the segment of the Cuban-American population, which grew by 21.1%.

Another factor of weight in these negative results is the “extinction of the ‘tsunami’ generated by the thaw in the relations between the US governments. and Cuba “announced at the end of 2014 with Barack Obama in the White House.

In this regard it mentions the decrease in the number of flights between Cuba and the US, which in the first half of the year was 31.6%, that is, 2,574 fewer flights than in the same period of 2017.

In the global level, THCG lists a series of elements that negatively affect the Cuban tourist industry, about whose future -he says- weighs a “great uncertainty”.

The report mentions an inadequate infrastructure, a “decline in the quality of service” in the hotel network, “problems of land and air transport” and a “poor quality-price ratio of the product that is offered”.

Taking as a reference the evaluations of 347,833 tourists in the Tripadvisor travel portal between March 2016 and February 2017, Cuba had 3.5 out of 5 points, the Mexican Cancún, 4.20 points, and the Dominican Republic, 4.05 points , according to THCG.

With this panorama, the report concludes, it is unrealizable that the Cuban tourist sector reaches the goal of the 5 million tourists proposed in 2017.

In the opinion of the consultant to meet its objectives, the Cuban government should undertake a “deep reform” that would involve the “decentralization” of the tourism business with the “incursion of private companies that generate competition.”

In addition, a millionaire investment is required to “remodel and maintain a good part of the hotels” that have been operating in the country for more than fifteen years, a “training of service and management personnel” and “improve the remuneration system” of the employees.