Tourism in Cuba

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Tourism in Cuba attracts over 2 million people a year, and is one of the main sources of revenue for the island.[1] With its favorable climate, beaches, colonial architecture and distinct cultural history, Cuba has long been an attractive destination for tourists. Having been Spain's last, oldest, and closest colony until 1901, in the first part of the 20th century Cuba continued to benefit from big investments, creation of industries, and immigration. Its proximity and close relation to the United States also helped Cuba's market economy prosper fairly quickly. As relations between Cuba and the United States deteriorated rapidly after Castro's abrupt expropriation (without pay) of all private property following a strong Soviet model, the island became cut off from its traditional market by an embargo and a travel ban was imposed on U.S. citizens visiting Cuba. The tourist industry had already declined to record low levels within two years of Castro's accession to power. By the mid 1960s Havana's Soviet backed communist government had banned and eliminated all private property, outlawed the possession of foreign currency, and eliminated the tourist industry all together. Internal movement within the island was also restrained.

Until 1997, contacts between tourists and Cubans were de facto outlawed by the Communist regime.[2][3] Following the collapse of Cuba's chief trading partner the Soviet Union, and the resulting economic crisis known as the Special Period, Cuba's government embarked on a major program to restore old hotels, remaining old pre-communism American cars, and restore several Havana streets to their former glory, as well as build beach resorts to bolster the tourist industry in order to bring in much needed finance to the island. To ensure the isolation of international tourism from the state isolated Cuban society, it was to be promoted in enclave resorts where, as much as possible, tourists would be segregated from Cuban society, referred to as "enclave tourism" and "tourism apartheid".[4] Until 2008 Cubans were not allowed to enter such tourist only stores, hotels, restaurants, beaches, etc. By the late 1990s, tourism surpassed Cuba's traditional export industry, sugar, as the nation's leading source of revenue. Visitors come primarily from Canada and eastern Europe and tourist areas are highly concentrated around Varadero, Cayo Coco, the beach areas north of Holguin, and Havana. The impact on Cuba's socialist society and economy has been significant. However, in recent years Cuba's tourism has decreased due to the economic recession, escalating foreign investment conflicts and fears, and internal economic restrictions. Since its reopening to tourism in the mid 1990s Cuba has not met the projected growth, has had relatively little restoration, and slow growth due in major part to the fact that many foreigners don't feel secure investing in Cuba under its current regime and Cubans are still forbidden by the state from owning private property or participate in any development. Since then, the Dominican Republic has surpassed Cuba in tourism, new development, and investment

Cuba has long been a popular attraction for tourists. Between 1915 and 1930, Havana hosted more tourists than any other location in the Caribbean.[6] The influx was due in large part to Cuba's proximity to the United States, where restrictive prohibition on alcohol and other pastimes stood in stark contrast to the island's traditionally relaxed attitude to leisure pursuits. Such tourism became Cuba's third largest source of foreign currency, behind the two dominant industries of sugar and tobacco.

A combination of the Great Depression of the 1930s, the end of prohibition, and World War II severely dampened Cuba's tourist industry, and it wasn't until the 1950s that numbers began to return to the island in any significant force. During this period, American organized crime came to dominate the leisure and tourist industries, a...
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