Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The embargo and the Caribbean

The Financial Times has a story that comes up every once in a while, but is worth keeping in mind. There is much anticipation that Obama will liberalize relations with Cuba, and if he allows U.S. tourists to travel there, then the rest of the Caribbean will be hurt. Before Castro, Cuba was a very popular destination, and there is considerable pent-up demand. In short, people will go to Cuba rather than to other places.

About 1.4m people visit Cuba each year– compared with 1.5m for the Bahamas, 2m for Cancún, 2.3m for the Dominican Republic, 1.3m for Jamaica and 2.9m for Puerto Rico.

But Cuba is expected to receive as many as 3.5m American visitors alone if the US changes its policy.

John Rapley, of the Caribbean Policy Research Institute based in Jamaica, said that since Cuban tourism was mostly directed towards the lower end of the market, one solution was for other islands to develop a higher end product.


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