Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Lifting Cuban embargo could affect Jamaican tourism

Published:Friday | January 30, 2015 | 1:04 PMLee Bailey

THE EDITOR, Sir:

In recent times, there has been speculation regarding the effects of lifting the Cuban embargo on Jamaica's tourism and, indeed, other areas of our commercial activity.

It is my opinion and certainly that of some of my colleagues that while it may not have an immediate negative impact, it will be significant in the long term in the area of cruise tourism.

The question that lingers at the forefront of most minds aspiring to elucidate this matter is - how does Jamaica compare to Cuba?

According to a census conducted last year and recorded on tradingeconomics.com, the population of Cuba is 11.21 million, while that of Jamaica is 2.72 million. The literacy rate in Cuba far exceeds that of Jamaica. Notably, Cuba currently boasts more tourists than Jamaica annually. These tourists are mostly from Europe, Canada and South America.

Then there is the matter of perceived security/safety, culture, historical curiosity, as well as a disciplined nation. I need not emphasise the victor in that comparison.

I spent three semesters lecturing in Cuba in the area of cruise tourism. It is safe to say that I covered 20 different companies and tourism-related activities; close to 100,000 people overall. Cuba is approximately 109,884km2 and has the potential to have at least 12 cruise stops - ports of calls - in the island that could hold more than one vessel simultaneously.

The conclusion arrived at during my tenure was to ensure that cruise vessels calling in Cuba would make multiple port of calls, and it is possible to make at least four stops before leaving the island. While the facilities may not readily be in place, they can have them have them installed within three years or less.

An interest in that island has always been on the front burner for most of the reasons outlined above, but, most important,, its proximity to mainland United States.

I am certain that pundits will have other opinions, and they are certainly entitled to them. So what must Jamaica do and when?

LEE BAILEY