Cuba 2011 winter season bookings lowest since 1998





For an economy increasingly reliant on tourism as its only real source of income, numbers leaked this week from MINTUR (Cuba´s tourism ministry) do not bode well for the winter season. Consumers in Cuba´s single largest market, Canada, appear to have learnt from Cuba´s “panicked “price slashing of late October 2010 and are waiting for the low numbers to prompt yet another “cost price” sell off by MINTUR. But, the 2010 price slashing may have brought the tourists Cuba desperately needed but, figures released in 2011 showed that the strategy backfired and meant Cuba´s income from tourism fell off the proverbial “precipice” with -30% income over the year 2010. A significant and bankrupting figure for a government who´s sale of Nickel, Sugar and other raw materials have reduced to zero or not far off.

On one hand, late 2010 Cuban tourism officials dropped their net rates to agents in order to stimulate stagnant sales and on the other, increased “all inclusive” participation of hotels across the island. This year, Canadian insiders on the island who run cycling tours and are closely associated with Cuba´s MINTUR say that the figures are so low his year that widespread panic has set in, she commented “our cycling ours are down to almost nothing plus, friends who work in MINTUR tell us that overall bookings from Canada, for the all important December/January high season, are almost nonexistent”

Astute Canadians however are all too aware that they´ll probably see a repeat of last year’s price slashing where a Canadian couple could acquire a two week all inclusive stay, flights included for 520CAD. Some Canadians interviewed at Toronto´s Pearson airport in December 2010 made their jubilation felt “we can´t stay in Canada, heat the house and feed the family for this amount, it’s simply cheaper to go to Cuba than stay in Canada”. But, these prices are not feasible and the aforementioned Canadian working in Cuba said “Cuban officials told us they lost money on Canadian tourism in the back end of 2010”

It’s obvious that something has to “give” with prices like this and, after consulting some of consumer reviews from Canada it appears that these deep price cuts have affected sanitation, maintenance, food and overall entertainment offered. Some we consulted pointed towards shear “night and day” reviews of certain hotels where glowing reviews from 2009 were replaced by disastrous reviews by apparently visitors returning for the second year and venting their discontent about the drop in service, food and cleanliness.


Of course, Cuba like most of the Caribbean is in the throes of a global recession which is hampering tourism and, to a large scale, Cuba´s has managed to buck the trend hitting some of its island neighbors but, at what cost?

As our Canadian insider agent said “Cuba needs U.S tourism now to survive, higher earning Canadians are getting great deals in Mexico and Florida where true quality can be found. Furthermore, Cuba is only really seeing the very lowest quality Canadian tourists these days, you know, the type who find it cheaper to visit Cuba than stay in Canada (hinting towards the interview mentioned above). MINTUR have quietly told us that the U.S is their dream market and the massive influx of inquisitive Americans may well just save Cuba´s economy from failure”


When we asked her if she was looking forward to Americans visiting Cuba she explained “weirdly, we as foreign agents registered in Cuba have been banned from selling to Americans…”

Go figure…Seems Cubans never learn and will forever bite the hand that feeds

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