Last Updated: Friday, 26 December 2014, 13:50 GMT

Cuba: Criteria for selecting people to work with foreign tourists in hotels

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 November 1992
Citation / Document Symbol CUB12109.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Cuba: Criteria for selecting people to work with foreign tourists in hotels, 1 November 1992, CUB12109.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6ad1774.html [accessed 27 December 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to the Cuban Tourism Office in Montreal (reporting to the Cuban agency Intur), the government is actively participating in the selection of tourism industry workers because, even though semi-private agencies and hotel development projects funded abroad are authorized, the tourism industry still belongs to the state (4 Nov. 1992).  Tourism industry workers are selected on the basis of their intellectual potential, level of education, language knowledge, and required skills (ibid.).  Guides and public relations workers, for example, are often required to speak foreign languages and have a diploma from one of the tourism schools in Cuba (ibid.).  Tourism workers do not have to be members of the Party, and contacts between Cubans and foreigners have been authorized and liberalized (ibid.).

According to an economist who specializes in Cuba at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, tourism industry workers are selected by the heads of the various tourism businesses who are themselves selected by Intur (4 Nov. 1992).  Political criteria may apply in the selection of tourism workers, but generally in a rather subtle way (ibid.).  For example, the government can always reserve the right to transfer workers from the tourism industry to other sectors (ibid.).  Tourism training programs are offered in universities, and internships abroad have also been possible for a number of years (ibid.).

In addition to Intur, the government agencies Cubatur and Cubanacan, as well as Gaviota, a semi-private agency which is partly controlled by foreign interests, are responsible for tourism in Cuba (The Chicago Tribune 18 Oct. 1992; The Nation 15 June 1992; AP 13 May 1990; Reuters 11 May 1990).  In 1992, the tourism flow increased by 25 per cent and the influx of foreign currencies by 30 per cent in comparison with the previous year (Xinhua 31 July 1992).  Tourists visiting Cuba are primarily from Spain, given the direct flights between Spain and Cuba.  However, tourists to Cuba also include Canadians, Germans, Mexicans, Italians and Austrians (ibid; ibid. 1 Oct. 1992). The main tourist areas are the following cities: Ciego de Avila, Camaguey, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba and Granma (ibid.).

The method used for selecting employees at Gaviota is stricter than at Cubanacan; employees at Gaviota are also better trained and better paid (The Nation 15 June 1992). Germans are sometimes hired to supervise Cuban employees in the tourism industry (ibid.).  The most colourful worker in the Cuban tourism industry is the "animator", who has the job of seeing that foreign tourists are enjoying themselves and of encouraging them to spend dollars in Cuba (The Nation 15 June 1992).  A centre for tourism education which opened in Havana will study tourism development in Cuba and train students to work in the industry (ibid.).  Another article indicates that there is a special school in Cuba that trains tourism industry workers (The Washington Post 22 May 1992).

The only Cubans allowed on the small tourist islands off the coasts are tourism industry workers, including the "animateurs"* (The Nation 15 June 1992; The Washington Post 22 May 1992).   Cubans are not allowed to stay in hotels reserved exclusively for tourists (The Chicago Tribune 18 Oct. 1992).  Such exclusion, not only from hotels, but also from stores, bars, beaches and restaurants, has been denounced by Cubans as a type of "tourist apartheid" (The Nation 15 June 1992).  However, the new commercial activity of "accompanying" (close to prostitution which is officially banned in Cuba) allows young Cuban women (jineteras) to spend nights in these hotels (The Chicago Tribune 18 Oct. 1992; The Washington Post 9 August 1992).  There are, however, special "tourist police" who patrol the hotels to ensure that Cubans with no connection to the tourism industry do not come in contact with tourists (The Washington Post 22 May 1992).

In addition to recreational tourism, a new form of tourism has developed under the auspices of Cubanacan in the past few years: tourism related to the health sector (The Nation 15 June 1992).  The quality of health care in Cuban hospitals and the advancement of medicine in Cuba bring many tourists to the island for surgery (ibid.).  For this reason, the most qualified doctors are increasingly assigned to tourist services, thus reducing the quality of services provided to Cubans (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

Associated Press (AP). 13  May 1990. "Cuba Pins Economic Development Hopes on Private Foreign Tourism Investors."

The Chicago Tribune. 18 October 1992. Lynda Gorov. "Hard Economic Times Force Cuba to Open its Doors - Even to Americans."

The Nation. 15 June 1992. Jon Glazer and Kurt Hollander. "Working for the Tourist Dollar; Cuba's New Economy."

Office of Tourism of Cuba, Montreal. 4 Novembre 1992. Telephone interview with a representative.

Reuters. 11 May 1990. Pascal Fletcher. "Communist Cuba Opens First Joint Venture Tourist Hotel."

Smith College, Northampton, Massachussets. 4 November 1992. Telephone interview with Cuban economic specialist.

The Washington Post. 9 August 1992. Douglas Farah. "Catering to Foreigners Instead of Cubans Puts Castro on Defensive."

_____. 22 May 1992. Lee Hockstader. "Tourists Royally Entertained in Cuba, the Penurious Communist Holdout."

Xinhua General Overseas News Service. 31 July 1992. "More Tourists Flow into Cuba."

Attachments

Associated Press (AP). 13  May 1990. "Cuba Pins Economic Development Hopes on Private Foreign Tourism Investors."

The Chicago Tribune. 18 October 1992. Lynda Gorov. "Hard Economic Times Force Cuba to Open its Doors - Even to Americans."

The Nation. 15 June 1992. Jon Glazer and Kurt Hollander. "Working for the Tourist Dollar; Cuba's New Economy."

Reuters. 11 May 1990. Pascal Fletcher. "Communist Cuba Opens First Joint Venture Tourist Hotel."

The Washington Post. 9 August 1992. Douglas Farah. "Catering to Foreigners Instead of Cubans Puts Castro on Defensive."

_____. 22 May 1992. Lee Hockstader. "Tourists Royally Entertained in Cuba, the Penurious Communist Holdout."

Xinhua General Overseas News Service. 31 July 1992. "More Tourists Flow into Cuba."

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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