Tourism in Havana - Spaces of Dual Order

Students: Boris Gusic, Hans-Christian Rufer
Location: Group work in Havana
Date: June, 2007
Type: Research project, student work, foreign interest city and tourism

The purpose of this investigation is creating and overview of a range of urban phenomena resulting from Cuba’s recent economic liberalization, which still tries to keep the high degree of centrality and the power of state. It focuses on influence of foreign investments by means of joint ventures and the increasing opening of the country and the city of Havana to tourism.
Usually, joint venture is a model of investment in which Cuban state together with an international partner forms a company on the basis of 51:49% participation. It is the main model with which international capital is brought to Cuba. Joint ventures can be found in different fields, from real estate and transport to various industries. They are mainly ‘visible’ in the field of tourism, resulting in numerous tourist enclaves scattered around the island.
Havana is historically a tourist city. In the first half of the XX century, Havana held strong attraction for Americans as a city where all transgression flourished by contrast to the prohibition in the US. In the years that followed the revolution, the international tourist field was abandoned, but is recently again becoming one of the main sources of income for the country. Since early 1990s international tourism in Havana and Cuba is organized through large state companies together with foreign partners, covering all the segments of tourist offer from tour-operated traveling, accommodation to entertainment. This produces a peculiar situation, in which the tourist areas are in many ways disconnected from the city. The mythology that attracts visitors to the city (music, dance, nightlife) is often reconstructed and staged for tourists, while to the local population it remains unaffordable.

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