Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Entrepreneurs lead Cuba's new revolution – from spas to drag nights

When Raúl Castro relaxed the laws on private enterprise in 2010 he

sparked an explosion in services tailored to tourists in Cuba

Fiona McAuslan

The Guardian, Friday 7 December 2012 22.45 GMT

"Clown, magician, party quizmaster", reads the list of positions for

which self-employed licences are available to enterprising Cubans. The

opportunities for private sector jobs are myriad since the change in the

law in 2010 allowed private enterprise to flourish. While options like

these may well be lucrative career choices it is undoubtedly businesses

that give Cubans access to the tourist dinero that are most sought.

In a country that is as body beautiful as Cuba it's little surprise that

there's been a surge in private spas. Conner Gorry, born in New York but

living in Cuba and author of the Havana Good Time app says: "State

massage venues and gyms have always been popular but now these very

smart and well-run, private spas are now driving competition." With

services that range from Swedish massage to yoga classes and indoor

cycling she rates O2, (Calle 26B #5, +53 7883 1663) as one of Havana's


Activities such as independent scuba diving tours and private dance

groups are part of the burgeoning private sector. On a trip this year,

travel journalist Claire Boobbyer found that Julio Muñoz's horseback

tours (+53 41 993673) through the beautiful countryside near Trinidad

were far better than the state options.

Havana's famously lively nightlife scene is also changing. Locals –and

in-the-know tourists – now head to the independently run Fashion Bar

(Kessell #52, Vibora Park, +53 7 644 2894). This supper club bursts its

glittery seams with the best of the capital's formidable drag queen

talent and is popular enough to warrant a strict reservations policy –

still something of a rarity in Cuba.

Low taxation is also fuelling the boom: in order to boost private sector

revenue the government has either suspended or reduced taxes. This is

set to change early next year when full taxation will gradually be

rolled out. It's inevitable that some less profitable businesses will

fall by the wayside but until then the spirit of free enterprise courses

through this socialist stalwart.

• Fiona is co-author of The Rough Guide to Cuba

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