Cuba Tourism Revival: Implications For Bermuda

November 4, 2015

Bermuda College’s annual Fall Lecture set to be held on Tuesday, November 17 will examine “The Rebirth and Revival of Cuba’s Tourism Industry: Implications for Bermuda and Caribbean Tourism”.

Cuba has burst onto the scene of the tourism landscape under the leadership of current President Raul Castro, and has the potential to present significant tourism competition to both Bermuda and the Caribbean,” the College said.

“Featured speaker, Dr. Leonard Jackson is considered an expert on the subject of Cuban tourism. He is currently the Director of Hotel Finance & Investment at the Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality Administration in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University, and will share his thoughts on the impact of Cuba’s resurgent tourism on the local tourism product, and that of the Caribbean – from the perspective of factors such as off-season travelling trends, airline seat demand, visitor target markets and more.

“The Lecture will take place on Tuesday, November 17 at the College North Hall Lecture Theatre [G301] from 6:30 – 9 p.m. The forum will be moderated by Cordell Riley.”

Bermuda - Cuba flags generic

Earlier this year the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association [CHTA] released a position paper on the impact for the wider tourism industry due to the opening of travel to Cuba for United States citizens, calling it the “biggest and most disruptive pebble to be dropped into the Caribbean pool in fifty years.”

The paper said, “The CHTA expects that those islands and countries nearest to Cuba will feel the greatest ripple effects and believes it would be wise for them to begin planning ways to mitigate those effects now.

“As for the other destinations in the Caribbean, the CHTA is of the view that the consequences might be more muted but in the end the total Caribbean travel landscape will be changed forever.

“The Caribbean, the most tourism dependent region in the world could use a good shaking up. For decades, with few exceptions, it has relied on its natural advantages of sun, sand, sea, welcoming populations and, more than anything else, its relative proximity to the United States, the largest economy on earth, for much of its success

“Cuba has already experienced an immediate increase in visitors from all around the world. Due to a ‘time capsule effect’ there are a number of tourist that are motivated to see Cuba before development changes the Cuban character that has been protected for many years.

“Cultural and Adventure travelers are already making their way to Cuba in ever increasing numbers. Being the first in your neighborhood to visit Cuba with the accompanying bragging rights is also motivating travelers to see Cuba.

“So those countries whose focus has been on the United States as their primary source market and who have not felt any competition from Cuba in the United States and who might have been lulled into believing that Cuba is a greenhorn at tourism, will be surprised at how sophisticated and effective the Cuban marketing machine has become.”

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  1. Raymond Ray says:

    Initially yes, it will be a hindrance to ours and the Caribbean Tourist Industry. This is basically due to the fact many are just curious about the, “in’s and out’s” of Cuba. After they’ve seen what’s there they wouldn’t take too long returning back to Bermuda…

    • Terry says:

      Disagree with you this time Raymond.
      Cuba is a beautiful place with pink sand also.

      After all these years of Communist rule and Socialism it will take sometime to get the influx they need visa Tourist but it will happen.

      It is sooooooo cheap to get there from the use and they produce their own crops et al.
      They are a very reliant people on what they have and have plenty of seafood.

      I wish them well. It will help the people so much not like in Bermuda where everything is supposed to be …..well yah no.

      Too expensive to fly here and the hotels are outrageous .
      My friend went last week and it cost $187 to fly from Florida and $40 per night/day.

      Go figure.

      • Onion juice says:

        And very beautiful extra curriculum activity.

        • I heart 441 says:

          I could be wrong, but just like DR, Cuba also promotes to European Countries as a sex tourism destination.

          • Terry says:

            That is misleading.
            It (Cuba) has been basically closed since the 50′s.


            • Bermy says:

              Closed to US citizens not the rest of the world

              • bluwater says:

                Europeans and Canadians have flocking to Cuba for decades.

                3 millions visits a year in Cuba compared to Bermuda’s 600 thousand and none of them are cruise passengers.

    • Bugs Bunny says:

      Absolute nonsense. Raymond Ray does NOT know what he is talking about. so many people have been returning over and over again because of the rich and vibrant. Bermuda remains the ideal place for the newly wed and the nearly dead. But he is so blinded by OBA rhetoric that he can’t see through the clouds.

      • cup of tea anyone? says:

        PLP Sux. only need my blinders to filter out the BS they spout :D

    • Frank says:

      I call it the forbidden fruit for the Americans. They will flock to Cuba as well as the Hundreds of thousands of American Cubans and there family’s.

  2. TheRoyalArch says:

    There’s no place like Bermuda in the Western hemisphere. Our natural beauty, pink beaches and turquoise waters will always attract visitors.
    As long as there aren’t any serious social disriptions, our tourism product will continue to shine for many years to come. Cuba won’t diminish that.

  3. Boston Baked Bean says:

    @TheRoyalArch – you’re delusional. Our tourism product is not “shining” and we’re rapidly pricing ourselves out of the market. There are a LOT of places in the Westerm Hemisphere that can compete with Bermuda -for a lot less money. Seasoned travelers are looking for much more “bang for the buck” than they can get here.

    • Longtail says:

      I fully agree with you BBB – Cuba is a sleeping giant.

      They already are a destination of choice from Europe so the tourism infrastructure is already in place… Cuba can expect a rapid growth in US tourists, much to Bermuda’s detriment.

    • Longtail says:

      If anyone doesn’t think that Cuban beaches are not competition for ours, just Google ‘Cuba Beach Images’…..

      • Rita Realistic says:

        Agreed, stunning and all year round I believe

      • lv.dt says:

        Yes, just Googled the images. Not Bermudaful but quite stunning for sunning… and as said below, year ’round.

  4. I heart 441 says:

    I’m intrigued by Cuba from a cultural perspective and I too would love to visit Cuba before the industrialized countries of the world ( specifically USA) commercialize it.

  5. Stacy C says:

    Does anyone know if this event will be live streamed (tweeted, whatever) or have a recap? I’d attend if I wasn’t in the sates. I think this topic is not only important for Bermuda, but for all island countries with tourism as a top GDP contributor.

  6. Terry says:

    Great to see such positivity on this thread.

    Yes it will affect our tourism industry but the irony is we screwed ourselves because of GREED.

    Imagine a poor Cuban waiting on a table at an open air café where they serve Jamaican Conch and boiled veggies making $1.50 an hour.

    That’s like heaven for them when they made nothing and lived off the land with no electricity.

    Viva La Cuba.

    Ps. I am no Socialist/Communist/Marxist but I love when I see a country and people about to change and for the children’s sake.

    Cuban Rum all around and a big cigar.

  7. Timothy Hickey says:

    Does ANYONE on this thread know their Geography? Bermuda is directly EAST of the East Coast of the U.S. Cuba, Jamaica, Nassau and the like are South. Cuba may be added as a Port of Call to those sailing the Eastern, Western & Southern Caribbean as the cruise lines like to in the most part, keep their ports of call close together to save on fuel costs. The majority of sailings from the U.S. to Bermuda come from places like Baltimore & N.Y. Granted, those cities do have Caribbean sailings but not many as opposed to the sailings from Ft. Lauderdale, Port Canaveral & Miami. There may be those that would like to see Cuba (me excluded) but Bermuda is a port of it’s own and can NOT be compared to Cuba. Many passengers that sail to Bermuda from the Northern ports of the U.S. do it because it is close to their homes. Not to worry Bermuda! There may be a minor lull in visitors but they will return to your wonderful Island!! There is NO comparison!!!

    • Terry says:

      They take the cruise/s to Bermuda because it is cheap. Free food 24/7 and all that.

      Take a cruise from where you stated to the Carribean. Must more.
      It cost thousands to fly 2 people from the east coast to Bermuda and then you have to have a place to stay (you’ll get it).

      5/6 days for $3000 and change with a roof over my head and a bed and all the food I can eat and you want to stay at Fairmont and air travel?

      Bermudians live in another world.

  8. obasellouts says:

    Cuba will not change anything about our tourism.

    Bermuda is not for the masses.

    But as I know many will argue otherwise I say,see you in a few years and lets discuss this again.

    Don’t get all bent out of shape because I disagree just lets wait awhile.

    • cup of tea anyone? says:

      PLP sold out bermuda.

    • Russ says:

      To say that Bermuda is not for the masses is categorically incorrect. What is correct is that Bermuda is for those who cannot assess vacation options. Spending money for an inferior product is only for the ‘inherited rich’ or idiots. Witness the incredible decrease in Bermuda tourism.

      Bermuda is a wonderful location – but greed has killed the golden goose. It is an option only for those of us with incredible memories that we wish to savor into our senior years.

      Cuba will eat your lunch in the tourism venue.

  9. Triangle Drifter says:

    Cuba has been a sleeping giant for many years. The opening of Cuba to US travelers will be disasterous for Bermuda made worse by our very high price to service quality ratio.

    People with limited vacation time & money to spend on it are going places where there is reliable service for the money. Bermuda has about priced itself & struck itself out of the market.

    There needs to be a seismic change in attitude to the way we give service & what we charge for it. Our heads have been stuck in the pink sand for far too long believing that “Bermuda is another world”. It is not.

    • Toodle-oo says:

      And to think that when the news of Cuba opening up was made many months ago I made remarks about how it was going to negatively impact on us that were not well received by some.

      While I agree with what you’ve said above , you say …

      * Bermuda has about priced itself & struck itself out of the market.

      There needs to be a seismic change in attitude to the way we give service & what we charge for it. *

      This is inarguably true ,and has been for a very long time . The question is , how do hotels (and in fact , everyone servicing the tourism industry) reduce their costs to the degree that prices go down ? It will have to mean that every person providing services and or goods will have to take a huge drop in pay / profit as well . That’s everyone and every service that touches anything to do with tourism .
      BELCO , TELCO , food providers , employees , taxis , retailers , government taxes , maintenance people and the list goes on and on . Can you ever see this happening ?
      I sure can’t and we can’t continue to just keep increasing the rates ‘because ‘ .
      So , in the end , we’re dead in the water and no longer in the tourism industry .

      • Russ says:

        Finally, someone who got directly to the crux of the tourism conundrum.

    • lv.dt says:

      i agree, just because we say Bda is another world, does not necessarily make it so.

    • sprung onion says:

      truer words have never been spoken.The opening of Cuba will be the nail in the coffin, ( not the last I pray ) 5 stars hotels at bargain basement prices, cheap yet grateful labor,beauty, history and MYSTIQUE, we and our southern neighbors are in serious problems

  10. Truth is killin' me... says:

    Cuba is Cuba…Bermuda is Bermuda…chalk and cheese!

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Keep dreaming. While you have your head buried in that sand Cuba is going to come along & kick you in that large part that you have exposed. Then you might wake up.

  11. stunned... says:

    curious what the BTA have to say on this topic. would be nice…oh wait – theyre printing another sailing Calendar…

  12. Keepin' it Real!...4Real! says:

    If you haven’t been to Cuba GO! NOW! before it gets digested into the belly of the beast…I jus hope Raoul hasn’t sold his soul and keeps to his words that cuba Will remain a communist country…hmmm? Communist? …so Russia can slip right in the door…90 miles from guess who?…and aren’t they both at arms right now..?

    Stay tuned…

  13. Tony Brannon says:

    CUBA is amazing… The Americans propaganda was pure nonsense. The USA should be ashamed of themselves.
    The Cuban people are amazing….. they survived the embargo.
    I too agree IF you haven’t been to CUBA, go before it gets all “CLEANED UP”. The vibe is great…..

    NOW….. as for all the Caribbean and Bermuda….. Do you know what the sound of CUBAN tourism is like ???

    It will be the biggest SUCKING SOUND all the island have ever heard…..

    • obasellouts says:

      Why is that???

      All of a sudden all the tourist in the US are going to go to Cuba?

      This is the stupidest thing you have ever said. And you are saying lot of stupid things lately.


      Godd..n stupid

    • Russ says:

      The Cuban people may be ‘amazing’ as the kids would say, but the facts as portrayed over the years by the US are correct. Start with a check of the healthcare system in Cuba. The delivery system is abysmal and the education level of the professionals is vastly inferior. It moves on from there to other areas such as lifestyle and freedom – important elements to any population.

      ‘Surviving’ the embargo is measurable and the impact clear. When they limit your access to radios, electronic parts and add in the ‘secret police’ – well nobody should have to live under these conditions. The Castro’s were on the ropes but US ‘leadership’ is too busy lining their pockets to see this. This is more support for my argument that we need to have voters take IQ tests. (Done only half way tongue in cheek)

  14. Coffee says:

    What this basically means , is that there will be no new hotel built in St.George for a while . Shawn and Bill have to get working , they say that they work , but we’ve seen no fruit .

  15. Acegurl says:

    The Monitor group, who were one of the best tourism advisory groups to come to this island, said more than 15 years ago there is a four letter word that will have the greatest impact on Bermuda tourism if it ever opens its doors, and that word is CUBA! The day has dawned BTA!
    This is the most timely discussion I have seen or heard about regarding the impact on the local product for many years!

  16. Pete says:

    Mr. Riley
    What a waste! wouldn’t it be more appropriate with all you educated
    expertise to conduct a discussion on how to improve, and increase the tourism market here in your Bermuda ? To explore means to bring about jobs for working class Bermudians, instead of hashing about a Country so far fetched from here, who have been doing a booming tourist trade for years.
    Bring in the tourist, and the capital to build up your home, not build up what somewhere else done elsewhere.