Apartheid en Cuba
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    2,850 pesos for one night in Varadero

    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 –

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