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Challenges of Tourism in a Dynamic Island Destination: The Case of Cuba

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Shifting political and economic structures have put Cuban tourism on a fluctuating course of economic development. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has turned again to tourism - an economic partner reminiscent of the pre-revolutionary era - to generate foreign exchange and stimulate investment The study analyses tourism in a non-market economy by examining Cuba's historic relationship with tourism. A literature review clusters Cuban tourism development issues and a destination audit and visitors' satisfaction survey evaluates Cuba's tourism product and key service issues. The rise of Cuban tourism is associated with a thriving black market, supply shortages, absent employee incentives, poor quality service delivery, resident apartheid, prostitution and telecommunication shortfalls. Regardless of these problems, Cuba maintains an exotic appeal due to its natural and cultural resources, its politics and its people. The case study raises questions regarding Cuba's long-term viability as a non-market economy in a competitive global and service-minded marketplace.
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Keywords: Castro; Cuba; apartheid; cuentapropias; embargo; non-market economy; package tourism; paladares

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Tourism and Hospitality Management, The George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA

Publication date: 01 August 2008

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