Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Translation: Guidelines debate 21, Tourism

Here is Part 21 of my translation of the booklet Information on the results of the Debate on the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines for the Party and the Revolution, an explanatory document published together with the final version of the Guidelines adopted by the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress in April.

An official English translation of the final version of the Guidelines has just become available. You can access it here. It does not include the draft Guidelines for comparison, nor the explanatory notes on the additions, deletions and amendments made on the basis of the public debate in the lead-up to the PCC Congress, all of which are included in the explanatory document that I've almost finished translating. The official translation appears to be pitched at Cuba's business partners in the English speaking world: state enterprises are described as "businesses", for example. Another term that may be misunderstood is "franchisement" (Guideline 2); a better translation would be "lessees of state-owned premises", since it refers to cooperatives and small businesses that rent premises from municipal Peoples Power governments.    

Tourism remains a vital pillar of Cuba's post-Soviet, post-capitalist economy, and the Guidelines assign it the role of bringing in foreign currency and stimulating the development of other economic sectors such as light industry. Since 2008, a ban on Cuban citizens staying in foreign tourism hotels – aimed at containing the corrosive social impact of foreign tourism on Cuba's socialist-oriented society during the harshest years of the Special Period – has been lifted.

By far the most opinions were expressed on something unrelated to foreign tourism. Tacked onto the end of the current Guideline 265 is the following: "Study a policy to facilitate Cubans living in Cuba travelling overseas as tourists". This topic was the subject of more than 11,000 interventions in the debates nationwide. It is very difficult for Cubans living on the island to travel outside Cuba as tourists even if they have the means to do so. One obstacle, though by no means the only one, is that the Cuban government requires Cuban citizens to apply for and be granted an exit permit, or "white card", before the leaving the country. 

These permits are notoriously difficult to obtain. In August, Raul Castro reported to the National Assembly of Peoples' Power that progress had been made on the drafting of a new policy that would ease restrictions on foreign travel. It remains to be seen whether this new policy would oblige university graduates, trained at no cost to themselves or their families, to work in their professions for a certain number of years before travelling outside the country or emigrating (since the one may lead to the other).      

Max Lesnik, a Cuban-born US citizen who is a supporter of the Cuban Revolution, argues that such limited travel restrictions would be fair. He says the white card should be scrapped, but it is "neither honest nor fair that they pay for a youth to graduate as a doctor, and then they ask for the white card to leave the country with their certificate in their pocket and earn in the US or somewhere else $300,000 or $400,000 a year when the Cuban state spent something comparable on their training. They must set up, in my opinion, mechanisms that require someone [with a professional qualification] to work in the country for at least ten years." You can read his full comments here.

The format is as follows: number and text of the draft guideline, followed by the text and number of the corresponding guideline approved by the Communist Party Congress, followed by the drafting commission's explanation for the change. You'll find it easiest to read on my blog where the amended guidelines are in bold font. 

Also on my blog, at the foot of the translation you'll see the label "Guidelines". Click on this blue label to view all of the instalments of my translation of this explanatory document sequentially. 

Tourism policy


235. The fundamental objective of the sector is the direct uptake of foreign exchange, with a competitive positioning in the market.

The fundamental objective of tourism activity is the direct uptake of foreign exchange, maximising the average income per tourist. (255)

Broadens the content of the guideline, adding “maximise the income per tourist”. The reference to competitiveness is taken up in the current Guideline 257. In response to 1,117 opinions nationwide.

236. Increase Cuba’s competitiveness in the markets by boosting quality of service and achieving an appropriate correlation between quality and price.

Increase Cuba’s competitiveness in the markets, principally through boosting quality of service and achieving an appropriate correlation between quality and price. (257)

Adds the word “principally” because there are other parameters associated with competitiveness. In response to 760 opinions nationwide.

237. Sales and promotional methods should be improved, utilising the most advanced technologies; diversify the source markets, resuming high growth rates.

Improve the methods of sales and promotion, utilising the most advanced information and communications technologies. (258) 

Refers specifically to sales activities, and transfers “diversify the markets of origin” and “resume high growth rates” to the current Guidleine 259. “Promotion” is taken up in Guideline 261. Given 229 opinions nationwide. 

238. Achieve growth in tourist arrivals from a larger number of countries, accessing new segments of the market, and fast-track the creation of new tourism packages.

Increase arrivals, diversifying the source markets and the clientele segments, boosting growth rates in step with the development of the tourism industry. (259)

Incorporates that related to “the diversification of source markets” and “growth rates” in draft Guideline 238, and transfers “fast-track the creation of new tourism packages” to the current Guideline 260. Substitutes “boosting” for “resuming” to reaffirm that growth in arrivals corresponds to the development of tourism, given 221 opinions nationwide.

239. Diversify tourism options complementary to accomodation with new, competitive packages for marinas, boating, golf and real estate, adventure tourism and ecotourism, theme parks, cruise ships, culture and heritage, health tourism and others.

Create, diversify and consolidate, in an accelerated manner, services and packages complementary to accommodation that distinguish the country from others, prioritising the development of the following areas: health tourism; marianas and boating; golf and real estate [i.e. holiday or retirement homes in self-contained golfing villas – translator’s note]; adventure tourism and ecotourism; theme parks; cruise ships; history, culture and heritage tourism; conventions, congresses and fairs, among others, including studying the tourism potential of the south coast. (260)

Incorporates the idea in the draft Guideline 238 to “fast-track the creation of new products”; promotes health tourism given its potential. Adds “conventions and congresses”, “fairs” and “history tourism” in response to 689 opinions nationwide.

240. Broaden tourism destinations within Cuba, including those on the south coast. In the area of promotion, carry out a transformation in administration and assignment according to destinations and techniques to be employed, at both an institutional and enterprise level. Prioritise the utilisation of the Internet in publicising what distringuishes our tourism in relation to its competitors and complementary offers, and achieve greater effectiveness in the tourism offices and companies outside Cuba, so that more is accomplished with this expenditure.

Improve promotional activity at an institutional and enterprise level, specifiying the administration of resources and their assignment by markets and techniques, utilising advanced technology. (261)

Refers specifically to promotional activity. The rest of the content is taken up in other guidelines. Gave rise to 288 opinions nationwide.

241. Non-state activity in accommodation, dining and other services will continue to be developed to complement what the state offers. (Maintained as Guideline 262)

242. Consolidate an integral scheme for the self-financing of tourism activity, with the objective of achieving financial self-sufficiency and the efficient operation of economic activity linked to tourism. In particular, it will be necessary to study mechanisms for the supply of tourism entities to take advantage of the potential for all forms of productive activity at a local level. (Maintained as Guideline 263)

243. Develop, as part of municipal government initiatives in the localities, attractive tourism offers as a source of foreign currency income. Study each urban or rural locality near tourism hubs and draw up horse riding, rural tourism, wildlife observation and other activities.

Draw up and develop, as part of municipal government initiatives in the localities, attractive tourism offers as a source of foreign currency income (accommodation, dining, cultural and historical activities, horse riding, rural tourism and wildlife observation, among others). (264)

Adds “dining, cultural and historical activities” on the basis of 2,205 opinions nationwide.

244. Invigorate and push forward the development of domestic tourism thorugh the creation of offers that make possible a better utilisation of the existing infrastructure.

Invigorate and push forward the development of domestic tourism thorugh the creation of offers that make possible a better utilisation of the existing infrastructure in hotels and other recreational and historical tourist attractions. Study a policy to facilitate Cubans living in Cuba travelling overseas as tourists. (265)

Includes studying a policy to allow Cuban citizens to travel outside the country as tourists. With regard to Cuban citizens’ access to Cuban tourism facilities, it is affirmed that this will be maintained, at non-subsidised prices, taking advantage of the existing possibilities and looking at new offers. This topic generated 11,195 opinions nationwide.

245. Achieve the planned levels of efficiency in the investments undertaken, reduce costs and spending without affecting the quality of service, apply new forms of hiring the workforce, extend the use of automated management systems.

Tourism must grow more rapidly to make possible the invigoration of the economy, on the basis of a programme of efficient development. (256)

Places this guideline at the beginning of the chapter given its general character. Deletes “new forms of hiring...” because it pertains to construction activity. In response to 339 opinions nationwide.

246. Boost the participation of Cuban industry and services in the resources used in tourism operations and investment, through which tourism will contribute to the development of other economic sectors. (Maintained as Guideline 266)

247. Prioritise the maintenance and renovation of tourism infrastructure. (Incorporated into Guideline 267)

In response to 475 opinions nationwide.

248. Consider the support infrastructre for tourism that needs to be established, and the maintenance and renovation of the existing infrastructure. At the same time, given that tourism is a sector that benefits in important ways from the natural environment, policies must be implenmented to ensure the sustainability of its development. Implement measures to reduce water consumption per tourist; increase the use of renewable energy and the recycling of wastes generated in the provision of tourism services.

Prioritise the maintenance and renovation of the tourism and support infrastructure. Implement policies that ensure the environmental sustainability of its development, implementing measures to reduce the index of water consumption and of energy, and increase the use of renewable energy and recycling of the wastes generated in the provision of tourism services. (267)

Includes reducing energy consumption. In response to 417 opinions nationwide.

New guideline:

Achieve more efficient and effective management of Cuban tourism offices and enterprises outside Cuba, with the aim of promoting new kinds of tourism and attracting higher-income tourists (268)

Arising from draft guideline 240.

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