Cuba is slowly opening Havana and other cities to tourism after doing the same with beach resorts in November, eager to breathe life into the devastated industry shuttered last March by the pandemic.
Francisco Duran, head of epidemiology at the Ministry of Public Health, said on Tuesday around 1,000 visitors were entering the country daily, the majority bound for resorts where Covid-19 protocols have proved effective but a trickle headed to the Cuban capital, some after visiting the beach.
Cuba, like other Caribbean countries, depends heavily on tourism, which represented about a tenth of its gross domestic product in 2019. Its economy suffered an 11% decline last year.
“A month ago there were no foreign tourists to be seen,” said Luis Enrique Gonzalez, who runs a private eatery in Havana’s colonial district, as a few guests lunched at outdoor tables.
Now some Europeans, Canadians and Latin Americans have appeared although only a few hotels are open and most bed and breakfasts empty.