With tourism decline, Cuba tourism workers find alternate professions

Published on : Saturday, April 3, 2021

Trumpeters and other performers serenaded tourists in Old Havana for 30 years, earning handsome tips before the corona virus pandemic hit. Cuba closed its borders last year on April 1. Now, many of them earn their living by alternate work.

The global vaccination drive is giving rise to hopes of a tourism rebirth this summer; however, many Cubans are yet to be hopeful with the Caribbean island experiencing its worst outbreak yet, enforcing tight travel and lockdown restrictions.

As a substitute, Cubans are practicing the philosophy of “resolver” – finding a way to survive in spite of all the obstacles.

A reopening in November last year invited a surge in infections, prompting authorities to reduce flights and ramp up restrictions.

While visitors are still allowed, they need to provide negative results of a corona virus test on arrival, get tested again at the airport and then quarantine for several days.

Visitors are required to wear face coverings in public spaces and will run into curfews and lockdown restrictions closing all but essential businesses throughout much of the island.

Cuba’s colonial town centers and tranquil beaches are still mostly empty even after a year, with visitors declining to just around 1 million from more than 4 million arrivals in 2019.

This decline in tourism is a major blow to Cuba’s struggling economy, which shrank by 11% last year and is facing shortages of basic necessities, with tourism representing about a 10th of its gross domestic product in 2019.

Around 8,200 employees from the state tourism sector have contributed to Cuba’s fight against the corona virus, working in hospitals and isolation centers, said Prime Minister Manuel Marrero.

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