Cubans And Foreigners Competing For Hotel Rooms / 14ymedio, Zunilda Mata
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Havana, 20 June 2016 — With the arrival of
summer on Monday, Cubans are obsessed with getting an "all-inclusive"
package tour to enjoy the school holidays. However, domestic demand is
affected by the simultaneous growth of foreign tourism — up 11.9% since
January — and the insufficient number of hotel rooms.
Since 2008, when Cubans were granted the previously denied permission to
book rooms in hotels, domestic tourism has seen a sharp increase and is
estimated to grow by 13.8% this year compared to 2015. The island
currently has about 61,200 rooms in about 300 hotels. The Ministry of
Tourism plans to add some 3,790 new rooms and repair 5,677 others, by
The tension between the capacity dedicated to international tourism and
those marketed to Cubans is considered the main cause of rising prices
in options for Cubans living on the island, especially the all-inclusive
"We have been saving for a year and in the end had to borrow money
because the prices have gone up," complained one customer in the Cubatur
offices at the Habana Libre hotel. "They've told us that all the
facilities on the northern keys are reserved and there is no room," said
A tour of several agencies in Havana confirmed that the prices of many
tourist packages have risen between 8% and 15% in one year. The Islazul
agency, one of the busiest among nationals due to its economic rates,
also increased some prices, especially those of multi-room houses on the
"It's nothing new, every summer prices go up as demand increases," an
employee of the chain justified by phone from her office in Cienfuegos.
She said that there has not been a significant increases in prices, but
that now there is less availability and the cheaper deals sell out early.
The employee said that "the most sought after options by domestic
clients are accommodations along the coasts and keys, although there is
also high demand for those that include a nature trail or historic
points of interest."
Sources in the tourism sector warned this newspaper that as of the 1st
of July package deals in Cuba will be even more expensive, with costs
increasing up to 50% in some cases.
The deficit in rooms, which has become more acute since the beginning of
this year, benefits private facilities in tourist areas, as is the case
with the Yeli Boom guesthouse at Guanabo beach to the east of Havana.
With a swimming pool and two minutes from the sea, the place initially
focused on foreign tourists, but has gradually included domestic clients.
"I reserved a place for 70 Cuban convertible pesos [about the same in
dollars] a night, because my son is coming from Barcelona to spend some
days with the family and I couldn't' find another place that is that
close to the sea and decent," commented Maria Josefa, a retired teacher.
She ruled out houses at Playas del Este that are state-managed because
"they have very bad conditions, when the sink isn't broken the mattress
"My only regret is that in these private homes it's not all-inclusive,
because it's really convenient not to have deal with the food," added
the lady. "It's a matter of time before these places that already have
such good conditions get a handle on this, when they allow you an open bar."
Source: Cubans And Foreigners Competing For Hotel Rooms / 14ymedio,
Zunilda Mata – Translating Cuba -