Che, Chevys, and Hemingway's Daiquiris: Cuban Tourism in a Time of Globalisation. Question Set


1. When and why did the “Special Period “ begin?

The “Special Period “ began in the early 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union.  The Soviet Union had provided critical support to Cuba after Castro’s revolution.  Collapse of the Soviet Union removed Cuba’s largest sponsor and left Cuba’s leaders scrambling for alternative economic develoment.


2. What three areas of development did Castro emphasize in the Special Period?

1. Food production          2. Tourism           3. Biotechnology


3. Why do you think Castro promoted tourism?

Cuba had a history of successful tourism before his revolution.  Other Caribbean had developed lucrative tourism economies.


4. What is the author’s view of tourism development in a socialist state like Cuba?

He believes that Cuba can exploit tourism successfully with centralized control. It will mix pre and post-revolutionary attractions.


5. Why is tourism development in a socialist state like Cuba a paradox?

Castro’s revolution was partly inspired by the excesses of capitalistic tourism in Cuba, in which foreign and local owners of pleasure palaces profited from the desires of rich visitors.  Wealth generated by this tourism was concentrated in the hands of a small elite class of Cubans and US citizens.  Socialism maintains that this concentration of wealth debilitates societies.  Castro initially eliminated pre-revolution tourism because it was inconsistent with socialism.  For him to be forced to re-introduce tourism to improve the economy is a paradox.


6. Which of Castro’s initiatives during the Special Period seem to be contradictory and/or inconsistent?



7. Summarize pre-Revolution tourism in Cuba. Yes, I am aware that there is not a question mark here.  Nevertheless, I expect you to write some sentences that summarize pre-Revolution tourism in Cuba.

Pre-Revolution tourism was similar to 1950s Las Vegas.  It was largely owned and enjoyed by US organized crime, “media celebrities and middle-class Americans.”


8. What kinds of tourism does Cuba offer? 

Eco-tourism, resort tourism, academic and educational tourism, heritage tourism, architectural and cultural tourism, medical tourism.


9. Where do most of the tourists come from?

Canada, Europe and Latin America


10.  How does Ernest Hemingway fit into Cuba’s tourism?

Hemingway lived in Cuba, off and on, for 20 years (1942-1959) and is appreciated by Cubans.  His house, and favorite bars have become tourist destinations for visitors.


11. Why did Castro call tourism un mal necesario?

Because tourism development involved private enterprise and increasing societal inequality.


12. What part(s) of the author’s city tour would you have enjoyed?


13. What aspects of Cuba attracted some of the tourists whom the author interviewed?

It allowed them to “go back in time.” “mix of old and new”, attraction of “forbidden” nature of tourism to Cuba.


14. Would you like to visit Cuba before Castro dies?  Why?