2,850 pesos for one night in Varadero / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar
Posted on January 19, 2016
14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 19 January 2016 – The noise of the rain
mixed with the sounds of the clerk complaining because the cash
envelopes were overflowing because they can’t cope with “so many Cuban
pesos.” The scene is repeating itself lately at the Cubatur tourist
office in the Habana Libre Hotel, with the authorization to allow
payment in Cuban pesos for package tours focused on the Cuban market.
The measure has not yet been extended to all places in the capital
offering accommodation and trips to different destinations in the
country, but in several provinces it has been in effect since the
beginning of 2016. In Havana, in addition to being able to pay with both
currencies – the Cuban convertible peso (CUC) and the Cuban peso (CUP),
also known as “national money” – in the so-called “Hard Currency
Collection Stores” (TRDs), you can now rent a room in a hotel or pay for
an “all-inclusive” excursion.
Over the last eight years – before that Cubans were not allowed in
tourist hotels and resorts – customers were forced to change their Cuban
pesos into convertible pesos to make tourist reservations, a procedure
which lengthened the process and generated unnecessary inconvenience.
The new flexibility, however, makes even more evident the imbalance
between the wages paid to Cubans and the prices they have to pay to
vacation in their own country.
On Saturday a couple was inquiring at the Cubatur office in the Habana
Libre Hotel about prices in national money for trips to the tourist
beaches of Cuba. At the Iberostar Varadero hotel, 2,850 Cuban pesos was
the cost for one night, all inclusive, “although you will have to
arrange your own transportation,” the clerk told them.
For 2,550 Cuban pesos the stunned lovers could afford a night at the
Melia Sol Palmera, also in Varadero. The price amounts to little more
than 100 CUC [roughly $100 U.S.], but expressing that figure in the same
currency in which wages are paid leaves many with a bitter taste.
“That’s my salary for five months,” the young man told this
newspaper. “Only when you see it in the same currency do you realize
that the prices here are crazy,” he said. Nevertheless he pulled the
money out of his wallet and 10 and 20 CUP notes, to the annoyance of the
clerk because she didn’t have any place to store so much “old money” and
complained about it.
Since March 2008, when Cubans have been allowed to stay in the country’s
hotels, domestic tourism has experienced sustained growth and now
Cubans are the second largest number of visitors to Varadero, exceeded
only by Canadians.
The sale in national money of different tours and accommodation is also
carried out in the Cubatur offices in Camaguey and Santa Lucia,
according to Jorge Alvarez, director of the agency there, who spoke to
the local press.
So far the measure has been well received, as it avoids unnecessary
inconvenience. Alvarez added that the travel provider Havanatur also
recently expanded its options available in national money.
In 2014, 1,208,123 Cubans stayed at hotels in the country, according to
the National Tourism Report, Selected indicators, January-December 2014,
published by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information. The
document also details that these national customers spent more than 147
million CUC in tourist facilities.
Source: 2,850 pesos for one night in Varadero / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar |
Translating Cuba –