Tourism has become an attribute of central importance within Havana’s urban environments and landscapes. Throughout the “Special Period,” tourism development has played a crucial role in transforming the city’s main functions and its urban environmental, economic, and social conditions. The rapid increase of tourist inflows and tourism-oriented facilities is testing Havana’s dilapidated urban infrastructural network, such as the water and sewerage systems and the transport services. It is argued that city-wide tourist development is prompting diverging environmental and socio-economic conditions within Havana’s neighborhoods and triggering the (re-)emergence of a “dual city.”
The aims of this paper are twofold. The first is to assess selected dimensions of the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the 1990s tourism re-development on Havana’s urban environment. In this context, the paper will test the claim that tourism development is coinciding with the broad re-emergence of patterns of duality within Havana’s urban fabric. The second is to use the findings of a questionnaire survey on habaneros’ (Havana’s inhabitants) perceptions on tourism development to identify policy-related and planning issues that are crucial to guarantee sound tourism development in Havana.
The paper begins with the assessment of (i) the effect of tourism on the city’s main urban infrastructure and service provision; (ii) the spatial socio-economic changes at the household, neighborhood and city levels associated with new economic opportunities generated by tourism; and (iii) the introduction of negative social phenomena such as prostitution, drugs, and crime stemming from tourism. Next, the paper highlights how current patterns of tourism activities promotion are engendering the establishment of urban tourism enclaves in the form of Havana’s best hotels which, in turn, are undermining habaneros’ recreational needs. Lastly, the paper concludes with the findings of a questionnaire survey on residents’ perceptions of crucial issues such as the relationship between tourists and residents and tourism displacement effects that are vital to inform future tourism development policies in Havana.
The survey deployed in this paper was carried out in Havana between May and September 2003. The survey sample was randomly chosen in Havana’s newly established “tourist poles,” as reviewed later in the paper, and consisted of 160 interviewees, 40 in each tourist pole. The respondents were handed the questionnaire and left with the choice to compile it at their convenience in one or two days. The survey questions served two main purposes. The first one was to evaluate residents’ perceptions on the environmental, social and economic impacts of tourism in their area. The second purpose was to assess their perception of issues related to the strategic planning of tourism that will be examined in the last part of this paper.
TOURISM DEVELOPMENT IN HAVANA DURING THE “SPECIAL PERIOD”
Since 1989, when the “Special Period” began, Havana has experienced a significant increase in tourism development projects. After forty years of under-investment in urban infrastructure and the curbing of urban development, Havana is slowly regaining its primacy as one of Cuba’s, and indeed the Caribbean’s, major tourist destinations. Havana’s tourist redevelopment can be seen as a direct outcome of the national economic strategy embarked upon by the Cuban leadership at the beginning of the 1990s which was grounded on the promotion of tourism.
In 1988, the Dirección Provincial de Planificación Física Ciudad de la Habana (DPPF-CH), Havana’s office of the Institute of Physical Planning, had already identified the city’s areas which offered greatest potential for tourism development. By 1996, these areas were formalized as Havana’s “tourist poles.” Thus, five tourist poles are currently to be found in Havana as listed in Table 1. These are located along the coastline and are re-proposing an east-west axis of development for Havana similar to the last years of the pseudo-republican period. Four different types of tourist poles can be recognised (Ponce de León, 1997). The first represented areas of established historic and cultural value that already formed significant tourist attractions. Secondly, areas suitable for the construction of new tourism infrastructures and facilities. A third type comprised areas that were connected with existing tourist zones within the city. Finally, areas that cannot be urbanized but are suitable for the development of tourist-oriented services were delimited.
Since 1989, Havana has become a major recipient of foreign direct investment in the tourism industry.
Several new hotels have been built or refurbished through joint ventures, while others have been built by the Cuban government and contracted out through management agreement to foreign firms. As a result, the total number of rooms available for tourists in Havana has increased rapidly throughout the 1990s growing from 4,682 rooms in 1988 to 12,002 rooms in 2002 (OTH 2002). However, the growth of tourist rooms in Havana has been spatially uneven among the poles. East Havana has experienced the largest increase in rooms in relative terms. While tourist accommodations were very limited in this part of Havana in 1988, in 2002 there were 3,878 rooms available for both national and domestic tourism. This increase stems mostly from the conversion of existing housing units from domestic tourism to tourism accommodations for international tourist or foreign workers in Havana. In West Havana, the supply of tourist accommodations has also increased significantly, growing from 867 rooms in 1988 to 3,878 in 2002 distributed among 21 new or modernized hotels.
The tourist poles of central areas of Havana, especially Old Havana, which was declared a World Heritage by UNESCO in 1982, have been characterized by the application of a different development strategy grounded on the rescue of architectural heritage and the consolidation of existing tourist infrastructures. As a result, four hotels were refurbished and reopened in Havana’s historic district, El Telégrafo, Hotel Florida, Parque Central, and Plaza. At the aggregate level the accommodation supply of the area grew from 3,783 rooms in 1988 to 4,246 in 2002.
Throughout the 1990s Havana experienced a rapid increase in tourist arrivals and revenues of the tourist sector. International tourist arrivals tripled between 1995 and 2002, jumping from 332,600 to 912,700 as shown in Table 2. The main generating areas of tourists to Havana can be found in Europe and the Americas. These include Spain, Italy, Germany, Canada, and Mexico. Similarly, gross income of the tourist sector grew from US$ 260.6 millions in 1995 to US$ 510.3 millions in 2002 as indicated in Table 3. The gross income fell in 2002 after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attack in New York that slowed down world tourism flows. Havana represented the tourist area in Cuba that contributed most to the national tourism income. Thus, between 1995 and 1998 the cumulated gross income of Havana’s tourism sector was US$ 1,410.2 million, which represented on average 48 percent of the national total (OTE, 1997).
TOURISM AND DUALITIES IN HAVANA
In a recent conference on urban planning held in Havana in October 2002 (GDIC, 2002), a few Havana- based architects discussed the future of Havana in 40 years time and presented various scenarios for the city. Throughout the conference it was highlighted that the main failure of the revolutionary government’s efforts has been the inability to reduce environmental and social differences between Havana’s southern and northern neighborhoods. Furthermore, in recent years this division has been exacerbated by the implementation of urban development policies grounded on a renewed emphasis on tourism promotion in northern municipalities. As a result, the socioeconomic and environmental gap amongst Havana’s areas is increasing rather than decreasing.
A Socio-Economic and Environmental Mapping of Havana
Havana City province is composed of 15 municipalities that were created after the 1976 jurisdictional reorganisation of Cuban provinces. The spectrum of economic activities carried out in Havana’s municipalities is wide and largely diversified. With the exception of extractive industry, a representative sample of Cuba’s main economic productions can be found in Havana. Thus, the city’s economic activities encompass tourism, sugar cane production, cigars, and pharmaceutical products amongst many others. Tourism is a vital economic sector in coastal municipalities such as Playa and Plaza, while it is absent in the economic structure of municipalities located in southern areas of the city. Similarly, light and heavy industries are located around the Bay in the southern municipalities of Regla, Cotorro, Boyeros, and Cerro, while they are virtually absent in the northern neighborhoods.
Two scholars have provided an in-depth and comprehensive analysis of socio-economic and environmental differences amongst Havana’s municipalities that can be used to describe Havana’s current (re)dualization process. González Rego (2000) uses sets of indicators recorded by Havana’s municipalities by the mid-1990s to portray the city’s social environmental spatial-territorial differences. In his methodology he looks at three main “statuses” of Havana’s municipalities, that is, the socio-demographic status, the socio-residential status, and the socio-laboral status. The findings by González Rego (2000) maintain that the municipalities of Centro Habana, Habana Vieja, Arroyo Naranjo, Cotorro, Cerro, and Regla are characterized by a moderate or high social risk in every status. In contrast, the municipalities of Playa, Plaza de la Revolución, and Habana del Este are more often associated with low or very low social risk levels.
The differentiation of Havana’s areas is complemented by the investigation of Pérez Rodríguez (1995), who places a strong emphasis on socio-environmental criteria. In her study, Pérez Rodríguez divides Havana into several areas according to Havana’s various phases of urbanisation and establishes a correlation between the latter and local environmental problems. The subdivision includes 143 areas grouped into 5 groups that range from Old Havana, as the original colonial city center, to urbanization projects in East Havana carried out by the revolutionary government in recent years. For each area she examines a set of environmental variables that include flooding, ground water contamination, water provision, housing, urban infrastructural conditions, air pollution, and lack of green areas.
Pérez Rodríguez (1995) concludes that areas urbanized before the revolution, between the 1930s and 1950s, display better environmental features because of newer and better functioning urban infrastructures coupled with better housing conditions. These areas include Vedado, Miramar, and parts of East Havana and can be found along the coastal west-east urban development axis that came to a halt after the revolution. The remaining areas are situated around the south of the Bay. They display less favorable socioenvironmental living conditions linked mostly to poor housing conditions and obsolete and malfunctioning urban infrastructures whose upgrade has been neglected by the revolutionary government for four decades.
The Effect of Tourism on Havana’s Urban Infrastructures
There are claims that Havana’s re-development in the 1990s, marked by a special emphasis on tourism and a rapid increase of population linked to migration, is magnifying the strain on the city’s infrastructural networks. The main problems associated with Havana’s urban infrastructures and services provision have been debated in the literature (see Díaz-Briquets and Pérez-López, 2000; Scarpaci et al., 2002; Lezcano, 1994) and will not be reviewed here. The remainder of this section, instead, endeavours to assess the reliability and validity of such claims drawing upon a plethora of sources, experts’ views and residents’ perceptions.
Water system and service provision: Havana’s water service provision relies on aqueducts and water delivered through tank trucks in some city areas. The water consumption users are divided between state and household sectors. The first consumers include the whole industrial and service sector producers, who are divided into big and small users, accounting for 16 percent of the total water consumption. The number of big state water consumers is 343, almost 92 percent of which have water consumption metered while only 56 percent of the 19,659 small state users possess metering systems. The domestic sector includes the total population of Havana, which accounts for 29 percent of total water consumption despite less than 40 percent of household consumers being metered (INRH, 1997). The remaining 55 percent of water pumped into the system is lost though leakages.
Technically speaking, it is complex to assess whether tourist activities are marked water over-consumers that exert an extra pressure on Havana’s water system. This is due to dearth of material and lack of accurate data to be used in estimates. Two INRH’s studies (1997, 1997a), however, provide water consumption figures for Havana’s 343 metered consumers that include tourism facilities. According to the studies, the total daily average consumption of water by big consumers was 58,512.1 cubic metres. Of these, 4,853.2 cubic meters (12 percent) corresponded to tourist infrastructures. In the study the latter included 20 hotels, 3 restaurants, one swimming pool, one aquarium, and the Tarará Marina.
Although many hotels were not working at their full capacity in 1997, while others such as Capri are currently closed, the estimate would seem to indicate that tourism infrastructures do not pose an element of stress to Havana’s water system. Furthermore, in areas such as Old Havana and Centro Havana, where the water shortage is particularly severe, virtually every hotel is served by tank truck. This delivery method does not affect the water distribution system although it may increase traffic and air pollution as well as spur resentment among local residents who have limited access to water. A more accurate estimate would have consisted of a comparison between tourists and local residents’ water consumption per capita. This could have enabled the calculation of water consumption increase linked to tourist flows or population increases. During fieldwork carried out in Havana between May 2003 and September 2003, the majority of hotels examined in INRH’s studies were asked to provide guest figures for the first months of 1997 when the studies were conducted. This would have allowed the estimate of tourists’ water consumptions per capita. Unfortunately, the hotels approached, including Hotel Nacional and Hotel Vedado, were unable to provide such figures. Indeed, the majority of hotel managements in Havana only keep guest records for three years unless they are recorded in software format.
Survey results on residents perceptions on tourism impact on water provision: The results of questionnaires1 administered in Havana’s tourist poles confirm that current levels of tourism development are not directly associated with the worsening of water provision. Residents of tourist areas were asked whether they strongly agreed (SA), agreed (A), were neutral (N), disagreed (D), or strongly disagreed (SD) with the statement that the “water provision in their area had worsened since the beginning of the tourism development.” Out of 152 valid answers, 111 (73 percent) answered Disagree or Strongly Disagree, 19 (12.5 percent) answered Strongly Agree or Agree, while 22 (14.5 percent) did not have an opinion. Moreover, Figure 1 shows that the Strongly Disagree and Disagree answers outnumber the Agree and Strongly Agree answers in each and every tourist poles. These results do not provide indications on the quality and level of water provision received. However, they indicate that it is impossible to establish a positive correlation between the development of tourism activities and the worsening of water provision in any of Havana’s tourist poles.
A well known Havana-based architect shares the same conclusions and goes further claiming that water provision has improved rather than worsened in some of Havana’s districts as a result of the development of tourism activities. For example, the construction of the Hotel Meliá Cohiba along the Malecón in Vedado has entailed the upgrading of the local aqueduct to bring water to its new 462 rooms. This, in turn, has benefited the water service to local residents. It is worth pointing out that the water provision of this area was already satisfactory. Hence, the upgraded works are not likely to have triggered a significantly positive impact for local water provision although no statistical data is available. In other words, tourism has prompted infrastructural upgrading of an area where such improvements had only a marginal impact for residents.
Sewerage: Until recently, Havana relied on one submarine pipe located at the entrance of the Bay (Playa El Chivo) to dispose of liquid waste into the sea (DFFP, 1999). In 2001, a new submarine duct located in La Puntilla (Miramar), at the mouth of Almendares River, was opened (DPPF-CH, 2003) to ease the pressure on the El Chivo channel. The new duct, constructed by the Spanish firm Agbar and financed by the INRH (Aguas de La Habana, 2003), has been linked to the tourism development of Miramar. As Quiroz Lodoli (2001:20, translation by the author) notes:
[T]he large tourist pole development located in West Havana between the mouth of the Almendares River and Quibú River, entails a significant increase of tourist infrastructures, real estate, and service centers. This development, in turn, has increased considerably the water demand and liquid waste generated.
Thus, there can be little doubt that the tourism development plans of Miramar that forecasted 4,400 new rooms and 477 new apartments for foreigners represented a major stimulus for this infrastructural upgrading.
The construction of La Puntilla duct is undoubtedly a major progress for Havana’s infrastructural upgrading, since the residuals of at least 34,000 dwellers of both East Miramar and West Vedado will be disposed of using the new duct (INRH, 1997), decreasing the pressure on the old and overcharged El Chivo disposal system. However, as with the water provision service, the improvement will be limited to an area which was already well served by the sewerage system without contributing to the significant enhancement of less advantaged areas. At present, it would seem that infrastructure upgrading is positively related to the area’s capacity to generate financial revenues to repay investment costs. This, in turn, is increasing the difference in service provision between areas without tourism resources and areas selected as tourist poles.
Drainage system: Havana’s drainage system relies on water flows that cross the city and underground natural channels that lead to the sea. Rain water is mainly channelled into over-ground water flows, while Havana’s natural topography and hydrological features have led to the formation of a system of natural underground spaces that drain water into the sea in many areas, especially in West Havana. The city drainage system consists of 386 kilometers of ducts and pipes, 146 of which were built between 1908 and 1915 to serve an urbanized area of 25 square kilometers.
The drainage system suffers from malfunctioning and a variety of problems described by INRH (1997). For example, a Oficina de Turismo de la Habana’s (OTH) study (1999) estimates that nearly 100 locations totalling 6,600 hectares of urbanized area, are periodically flooded during the rain season. Indeed, over 50 such areas can be found in northern municipalities that border the sea. Flooding is particularly severe in the Playa municipality, where 32 large areas are regularly flooded due to heavy rains. Playa is served by only 11 kilometers of drains despite being one of the city’s largest municipalities. Here, water is mainly drained through a system of natural underground channels that has been altered by recent tourist constructions.
Informal conversations with the Havana’s office of CITMA (Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology) confirmed that the recent development of tourist accommodations in Montebarreto has contributed to the increase of flooding problems of 3ra Street between the Hotel Tritón and 110 Street. The building of tourist infrastructures in this area has led to the obstruction of many underground water evacuating channels preventing the water from flowing to the sea. Hence, it can be concluded that tourism is not contributing to solving drainage problems of the northern neighborhood but is actually exacerbating them. More tourism development along Havana’s coastline, for example in Vedado, Centro Habana, and East Havana, needs to be carefully planned and take into account the vulnerability of these areas to flooding problems that stem from sea infiltrations and the blockage of underground draining passages.
The road system and urban transport: Havana’s road system consists of 2,60 0 kilometers that are categorized for planning purposes into express highways, main arteries, secondary arteries. and connecting and local roads (DPPF-CH, 1999). Almost 10 percent of Havana’s road system has deteriorated because of poor maintenance and the effects of heavy rains and sewerage out spills (OTH, 1999). Road maintenance and traffic problems are magnified by the increase in the use of private cars that has occurred during the Special Period following the opening up of the economy. Havana’s Territorial Development Scheme (DPPF-CH, 1999) estimates that the motorization index of Havana’s inhabitants has increased steadily throughout the 1990s at an annual rate of 0.8 percent, reaching 37 cars per 1000 inhabitants in 1999. In this context, a well known architect claims that the number of cars registered in 2002 equals that of 1959, although he was unable to provide figures (GDIC, 2002).
Havana’s roads witnessed a sharp increase in usage by cars in the Special Period due to economic activities carried out in the dollar sector. Many firms and joint ventures operating in the external sector imported new cars and trucks to increase their transport efficiency and perhaps to publicize the company unnecessarily through logos stamped on corporate cars. Tourism has been the other important factor that contributed to the increase of car circulation in Havana, operating in two main fashions. Firstly, there has been a remarkable increase in car rental points, which can now be found in almost every hotel in Havana. Cars are increasingly being used by tourists to visit the city, as they allow more flexibility than tourist buses. Thus, State tourism corporations such as Rent-a-Car, belonging to Gaviota, Habana Autos, belonging to Transtur, and Fénix, of the Oficina del Historiador, have specialized in car rental services. Secondly, the number of taxi companies has risen, growing from two or three providers in the early 1990s to at least six companies in 2004. These, for example, include Panataxi, Taxi OK, Habanataxi, Taxi Transtur, Transgaviota, and Turistaxi.
Survey results on residents’ perception of the impact of tourism on traffic problems: At a theoretical level, the division between the means of transport used by residents and by tourists could allow the assessment of the broad impact of tourism on both the roads’ physical state and traffic problems. This task proves difficult to carry out in practice because of a lack of statistics. Nonetheless, the questionnaire survey results can provide a valuable insight on the second issue, that is, the correlation between tourism development and the worsening of traffic problems. Thus, residents were asked whether they Strongly Agreed (SA), Agreed (A), were Neutral (N), Disagreed (D) or Strongly Disagreed (SD) with the statement that “traffic problems in their area had not increased after the tourism development.” Out of 148 valid answers, 77 (52 percent) answered Strongly Agree or Agree, 24 (16.2 percent) did not have an opinion while 47 (31.7 percent) answered Disagree or Strongly Disagree.
The survey findings would seem to indicate that citywide current levels and typologies of tourist development and tourist cars or taxis are still not responsible for traffic related problems. The response analysis at pole level (see Figure 2) shows some differences between tourist areas in terms of traffic problems. More specifically, the responses highlight that residents of Old Havana, and Montebarreto perceive traffic congestion to be linked with tourism. Thus, in Old Havana, while no one answered Strongly Disagree with the claim, the respondents who answered Disagree and Agree are almost levelled. It can be argued that, in the old colonial area, narrow streets and limited parking spaces can be considered responsible for the traffic problems. The Montebarreto survey shows the highest percentage of Strongly Disagree respondents, who outnumber the residents who answered Agree. In this area congestion is linked to flooding, as highlighted by a few respondents. Thus, during the conduct of the survey, residents pointed out that because of flooding, large tourist buses are diverted to small roads causing gridlock.
Solid waste and other urban infrastructures: The disposal of solid waste in Havana has been a significant issue for many years. The city generates between 1,200 and 1,500 tons of solid waste per day, which are not adequately collected and disposed of (CITMA- CH, 1998). According to a recent study, only 600 tons of garbage are collected daily, while the ideal number of garbage collection points in the urban area should be 9,729 against the actual 7,470 (OTH, 1999). The trucks available for the collection of garbage number 137, but only 71 are actually working.
It proves difficult to establish the extent to which new tourism infrastructures and western tourists’ high consumption level are contributing to exacerbate Havana’s solid waste disposal problem, especially in light of the absence of accurate data and estimates. At present, however, it would seem that Havana is already facing serious solid waste disposal problems that stem from local residents and indigenous economic productions not related to tourism. This is not to say that tourism is not exerting an extra pressure on the city’s already overloaded infrastructures. Tourists are certainly contributing to the increase of Havana’s waste disposal burden, although the extent of their contribution remains unclear. Plans for future tourist development of Havana ought to take into account estimates of waste produced by the tourist industry with the aim of avoiding unexpected outcomes.
Survey results on residents’ perceptions of tourism impact on cleanliness: The survey attempted to cast light on the possible links between waste and tourism by asking residents whether they thought that cleanliness of their area had worsened as a result of tourism. The results (see Figure 3) show that out of 150 valid answers, 38 (25.4 percent) answered Strongly Agree or Agree, 45 (30 percent) were Neutral, while 67 (44.6 percent) answered Disagree or Strongly Disagree. The high percentage of Strongly Disagree, Disagree and Neutral answers could be interpreted in two ways. Firstly, it could confirm that Havana is already suffering from such serious cleanliness problems as to leave the effect of tourism on street cleanliness still unnoticed. Secondly, that no conclusion can be drawn on the impact of tourism on street waste production.
Electric grid: No data is available to assess the share of tourism in Havana’s total electricity consumption, or the extent to which tourism infrastructures contribute to the increase of the overall demand. At present, the high demand stemming from hotels with air conditioning is still balanced by the lack of high power-demand from tourist infrastructures such as thematic parks, night light shows, or air conditioned museums that could be responsible for the high consumption of electricity. Municipal authorities have planned: (i) the upgrading of the Plaza distribution plant in light of the forecast growth associated with this municipality; and (ii) the development of the electric grid in the Eastern Beaches tourism pole (DFFP, 1999), where an increase in energy consumption is forecast. It is unclear whether the city’s southern areas will benefit from this upgrading process.
Economic Impact of Tourism in Havana
As in many other large cities, it is arduous to assess the economic impact of tourism in Havana due to a variety of methodological and measurability hurdles whose review is outside the scope of this paper. In Havana this task is complicated further by the scarcity of publicly disclosed disaggregated data on tourist expenditures and employment figures. This in turn complicates the analysis of the multiplier effect of sales, output and employment (see Huse et al., 1998 for a methodological review) generated by the tourism industry. Nevertheless, the study of available data and sources allows the examination of: (i) the revenues generated by tourism; and (ii) the qualitative analysis of the changing nature of employment and new occupational opportunities generated by tourism.
The impact of tourism on employment in Havana during the Special Period has been noticeable in both quantitative and qualitative terms. At least two main trends can be identified in Havana’s job market:
• the increase of jobs in tourism and services; and
• the rise of self-employment, mostly in accommodations and more generally in the dollar-oriented sector.
The first feature is linked directly to the new employment opportunities generated in corporations and joint ventures. The second one stems from the introduction of economic reforms and indicates a change in the nature of new employment opportunities that rely less on the State sector and increasingly on market mechanisms. Furthermore, it is argued that new jobs are increasingly associated with the informal economy that is yielding socio-environmental impacts at the household and neighborhood levels.
The increase of jobs in tourism and services: The number of jobs created in the tourism sector in Havana has increased throughout the 1990s. Figure 4 illustrates how the jobs provided by the tourist industry more than doubled between 1996 and 2002, growing from 13,694 to 32,962. After the collapse of economic sectors such as tobacco and sugar, the government has implemented programs to re-train workers in declining economic sectors for emerging industries such as tourism (Cuban TV news, 22 August 2003). The increase of jobs in tourism can be framed within the broader shift of Havana’s economic structure toward a service economy that is being pragmatically supported by the Cuban leadership.
In the absence of economic production data, the shift toward a service economy dominated by commerce and tourism is testified by an increase of investment and employment figures in services. Table 4 shows that between 1996 and 2001, state investment in sectors such as industry, construction, and agriculture have decreased. In the productive sphere,2 only investments in trade infrastructure grew from 74.5 million pesos to 172.2 million pesos. In the same period, investment in personal services and trade have increased nearly five-fold, from 46.8 million pesos to 228.3 million pesos. Similarly, investment in administration tripled from 70.1 million pesos to 217.8 million pesos. Employment figures between 1996 and 2001 confirm the same trend. Thus, Table 5 shows that workers in the productive sphere decreased from 432,750 in 1996 to 427,026 in 2001, while in the same period the number of workers in the non-productive sphere increased from 461,510 to 484,463.
Table 5 is also useful in highlighting that within the service sector, tourism is taking away workers from other sectors with high social function such as public health and sport. In Cuban statistics, the workers of these economic sectors are grouped under the category “public health, sports and tourism.” Between 1996 and 2001, the number of workers employed in these sectors diminished from 89,618 to 85,746 while, as noted earlier, the number of workers in the tourist industry increased. Broadly speaking, it could be concluded that tourism is draining human resources from two sectors on which the Revolution has historically placed a lot of emphasis, that is, health and sports. This argument is supported by claims according to which a large number of workers seek jobs in tourism because of: (i) better working conditions; (ii) the prospect of better salary complemented by tips in dollars; and (iii) the possibility to use the corporation’s car, still a luxury commodity in Cuba. For example, while the average salary for a worker outside the tourist hard-currency sector is approximately 10 dollars per month, wages can rise up to 100 dollars in the tourist industry (including tips).
Survey results on the economic benefits of tourism: The outcome of the questionnaire survey (see Table 6) confirmed the argument that an increasing number of habaneros would like to work in tourism. In addition, nearly 80 percent of interviewees strongly agreed or agreed with the statement that tourism has generated new employment opportunities for local residents. The low percentage of respondents who did not agree with the claim (just 10.5 percent) demonstrates that residents of tourist poles perceive tourism as profitable economic sector to work for. It should be highlighted how the survey did not cast light on the quality of jobs created in tourism. In fact, it is argued that the tourism industry is generating low skills jobs that in the long term will not determine very high social mobility amongst habaneros and more generally Cubans.
Self-employment and tourism: In 1993, more than a hundred self-employed job categories were legalized through Decree Law 141. This meant that thousands of habaneros set up their own small businesses ranging from agriculture to services. Table 7 shows how the number of self-employed workers (cuentapropistas) increased steadily from 23,027 to 41,236 between 1996 and 2001. Furthermore, it can be observed that the significance of non-state employment including mixed enterprises and small business or private agriculture has risen in the same period as a whole. Thus, while in 1996 the State employed directly or indirectly (for example through cooperatives and UBPCs still linked to the state sector) around 97 percent of Havana’s working force, in 2001 it employed just over 91 percent.
Self-employed jobs can be found predominantly in services and tourism. Peters and Scarpaci (1998) note that self-employed service categories include low-order retail activities such as beauty shops, shoe repair, massage therapy, spiritual advice, and home restaurants called paladares. These food establishments were once clandestine but mushroomed throughout Havana after their legalization in 1993. They exert a significant competition for State restaurants by offering a meal for 10-15 US$ against the 25-35 US$ meal served in tourist facilities. No data are available on the historical evolution of paladares in Havana, but there is general agreement that they flourished until 1997 then stabilized and decreased after 2000.
Two different reasons for this decrease are provided by officials, on the one hand, and workers in the sector, on the other. According to State officials, after 1996 state restaurants regained competitiveness against private restaurants by improving their service and food quality. This, in turn, forced many paladares out business. But paladares workers have argued in informal talks during fieldwork that many household restaurants were forced out of the market because the government raised taxes to an unsustainable level.
Another important niche of self-employment in tourism is in the setting up of bed & breakfast (B&B) establishments. It has been estimated that in 1995, over 7 percent of individual tourists visiting Havana chose this kind of accommodation, whilst this proportion increased to 21 percent in 1997 (Bohemia, 1997) and 23 percent in 2002 (OTH, 2003). Thus, the number of B&Bs that are registered and paid taxes in Havana tripled between 1998 and 2002, accounting for over 27 percent of the national total in 2002, as shown in Table 8. At the national level, García Jiménez (1998) estimated that taxable income produced by the private accommodations sector equalled 4 percent of the total revenues of the tourist industry and 36 percent of the state accommodations sector. In a follow-up study, García Jiménez (2000) pinpoints that the majority of B&Bs in Havana are located in the northern municipalities of Plaza (36.7 percent), Playa (32.1 percent), and East Havana (22.7 percent). There can be little doubt that the remaining are located in Old Havana and Centro Havana, while they are virtually absent from southern areas, contributing to the urban polarization described earlier.
Authors point out that while many rental rooms are located in private residences, there are at least an equivalent number in the informal sector (Coyula, 2002). The rise of the informal economy associated with B&B and small private business is a new phenomenon in Cuba that is engendering spatial changes at the household and neighborhood levels in two main fashions. Firstly, family members often share rooms in order to be able to rent or use the space which is thereby freed-up. Similarly, families often modify their house design in order to rent out a room or create a work space. At the neighborhood level, there are claims that habaneros have begun to occupy common areas within buildings, portals, gardens, and patios to carry out their activities such as selling books and drinks. These new phenomena have been harshly criticized by municipal authorities and planners alike because they are introducing unauthorized commerce and negatively affecting Havana’s urban culture.
Social Impact of Tourism in Havana
As with any tourist city, especially in the Caribbean, Havana has not been exempt from a non-neutral social impact stemming from the tourist development. The critical and in-depth analysis of such impacts and their planning implications is outside the scope of this paper. In the remainder of this section the investigation will be limited to a concise review of the main social impacts of tourism in Havana.
There is general agreement that tourism has generated a new wave of prostitution and street crime in Havana (Elinson, 1999) and created new actors and pressure groups that include jineteras (prostitutes); jineteros or chulos (pimps); maceteros (money launderers) and luchadores (street hustlers offering guide service, cigars, etc. to tourists). Prior to the Special Period, Cubans approaching tourists and asking them for a present or money was an uncommon sight because they could be detained by the police. From 1990 onwards, petty theft and assaults are no longer infrequent in any part of Havana (Scarpaci et al., 2002). Prostitution and street begging proliferated in the streets of Havana, especially in the first half of the 1990s, triggering the re-emergence of anti social behaviors that had been virtually eliminated by the revolutionary government.
In the early 1990s the rapid expansion and adoption of the sex trade and prostitution as a survival strategy by many habaneros prompted serious health problems related to sexually transmitted diseases. In 1996, the leadership decided to crack down on prostitution in an attempt to stop the spread of such diseases. Despite governmental efforts, today it is still common to be stopped in the streets of Havana by male and female prostitutes who travel across the city to reach central tourist areas such as Vedado, especially Calle 23 and Malecón, and Old Havana. Despite the obvious measurement issues associated with the prostitution phenomenon, officials have acknowledged the existence of such problem.
Survey results on residents’ perception of social impact of tourism: The survey findings highlighted that over one-third of the respondents identified prostitution as the main negative effect brought by tourism in their neighborhood. Thus, 83 out of 160 interviewed (51.8 percent) reported jineterismo (prostitution) as positively correlated with the local tourist development. Furthermore, the analysis of the answers at the pole level would seem to indicate that there are no differences amongst poles. This result shows that prostitution is a widespread phenomenon affecting Havana’s tourist poles in the same way. While before the revolution, the sex trade was concentrated in the Colon neighborhood in Centro Havana municipality and in the port area, today this activity is equally carried out in tourist areas and infrastructures along the east-west urban re-development axis.
Other Residents’ Perceptions on Tourism Development and Their Participation in the Planning Process
This section of the paper aims to assess impacts that are broadly associated with a number of strategic tourism planning issues. For the purposes of analytical clarity, resident responses have been grouped into four main categories that underpin each issue. These categories are:
• perceptions on the overall intensity of tourism impact and main changes brought by tourism; • the relationship between tourists and residents;
• displacement of, and interference with, residents’ activities; and
• the danger of investments in facilities and services which serve primarily tourists and neglect Havana’s dwellers.
Lastly, the study endeavours to assess the extent to which residents inputs are feeding through the decision making process.
Perceptions on the overall intensity of tourism impact and changes brought by tourism: In the questionnaire, residents were asked three main questions to evaluate their views on the intensity of tourism impact and changes brought by tourism (see Table 9). The results would seem to indicate that the majority of residents (86.8 percent) think that tourism so far has had either a positive impact or little impact, while only a minority of residents (13.2 percent) believe that tourism has had a negative impact or none. At the pole level, in Old Havana, Vedado, and East Havana, the majority of respondents think that tourism has had a positive impact, while in Montebarreto the highest number of respondents believe that tourism has had little impact.
Similarly, a survey question asked residents: “Has the change brought by tourism been positive or negative?” and “Why?” Table 9 displays that 89.3 percent of respondents indicated that tourism had had a positive impact, while the remaining 10.7 percent expressed negative views on the impact of tourism in their area. The positive change generated by tourism is associated with economic development (n = 111), environmental revitalization (n = 56), cultural and social revitalization (n = 51), and more dynamism (n = 27). Those who had negative views on the change brought about by tourism indicated personal insecurity and crime increase (n = 18), and population displacement (n = 16) as the main reasons for their choice.
Lastly, a significant percentage of residents of tourism poles (85 percent) would still welcome further tourism development in their area. These positive respondents can be mostly found in East Havana (n= 27), Old Havana (n = 24), and Vedado (n = 18), while the majority of respondents who answered negatively are concentrated in Montebarreto (n = 13). Interviewees who answered “yes” and “moderately” were also asked: “Why would you like to see more tourism development in this area?” Thus, 112 respondents answered because tourism would bring prosperity and economic development, 46 answered “cultural exchange with tourists,” 44 answered “cleanliness” associated to tourism, 33 answered “environmental revitalization,” while 21 thought that more tourism could bring more vitality and dynamism to their area.
The survey findings highlight that tourism has become an important element that is engendering impacts in each of Havana tourism poles. While the majority of residents think that tourism’s impact is positive and would like to see more tourism in their area, mostly because of economic benefit that may stem from it, residents of Montebarreto have shown some reservation on future increases. The businessoriented and high expenditure-based tourism being promoted in Playa municipality is certainly not generating great involvement of Montebarreto’s residents in the environmental and economic gains that stem from tourism. Moreover, local shops and bodegas (corner grocery stores) are being replaced ever more by expensive tourism-oriented shops and diplotiendas. The latter are dollar-based shops which serve diplomats of an increasing number of embassies that are relocating from Vedado to this area because of the new centrality being promoted in this city area.
The relationship between tourists and residents: The analysis of the tourists-residents relationship, and the subsequent residents’ “irritation” level caused by tourist activities (see Doxey’s “Irrindex,” 1975, for a description) has been carried out mainly through: (i) asking residents to rank their level of happiness with regard to tourism development in their area; and (ii) a series of statements which residents were asked to comment upon. Thus, a survey question asked interviewees: “On a scale from 1 to 10, how happy are you with regard to current tourist development on this area?” The results indicate that 51.7 percent of the 142 respondents expressed a level of satisfaction comprised between 6 and 10, while the majority of respondents ranked their level of satisfaction at 5. The response at pole level would seem to confirm the results at city-aggregate level (see Figure 5) that those residents mostly dissatisfied about tourism development can be found predominantly in Montebarreto while the most satisfied are concentrated in Vedado.
Interviewees were also asked whether they Strongly Agreed (SA), Agreed (A), were Neutral (N), Disagreed (D) or Strongly Disagreed (SD) with the statements that:
• “Local residents welcome the presence of tourists in this area.”
• “The presence of tourism does make shopping more unpleasant.”
• “The presence of tourists is not responsible for overcrowding this area.”
The aggregate responses reported in Table 10 would suggest that at the city-level, the relationship between tourists and residents can be classified as still satisfactory. Thus, tourism is in a development phase in which residents still welcome the presence of tourists in their area although a significant percentage of Vedado-based respondents (over 43 percent) had a neutral view on this issue.
Broadly speaking, tourism is not considered to generate overcrowding effects in Havana’s tourist areas with the exception of Old Havana. This result can be easily understood because in old colonial centers tourists and residents are forced to share a limited physical space. Lastly, tourism is not considered to make shopping more unpleasant in Havana’s tourist area. The only exception is represented by Montebarreto where an equal number of respondents would seem to either agree or disagree on the statement. As indicated earlier, the shopping issue in Montebarreto can be linked to the excessive promotion of tourismoriented shops rather than to the actual shopping activity.
Displacement of, and interference with, residents’ activities: At the city level, the responses (see Table 11) indicate a high displacement effect (72.5 percent) of local residents’ daily activities and meeting places by the tourism industry. Answers also suggest that primarily hotels (n = 78), bars and restaurants (n = 70) and, to a lesser extent, squares and public spaces (n = 15) have become inaccessible to habaneros because of tourism. Analysis at the tourism pole level confirms that the displacement effect is perceived with almost the same degree of intensity in each pole, although Old Havana is the city area where residents showed more concern (80 percent of respondents).
The tourists’ interference with residents’ activities is still low. Indeed, only 17.5 percent of respondents thought that tourists interfered with their daily activities. The responses at the city and individual tourism pole level show similar percentages indicating no major differences between poles. If this result is examined in conjunction with the findings on displacement effect of tourism, the analysis would seem to suggest that there is a low level of interference between tourists and residents because different spaces and circuits are being created for the activities of each groups. Thus, more hotels, bars, and restaurants are being diverted towards tourism consumption and less towards habaneros’ needs.
The danger of investments in facilities and services which serve primarily tourists: The danger of investments biased towards meeting primarily tourists’ needs is the last impact that is often ascribed to tourism promotion policies. The residents of Havana’s tourist poles were therefore asked to express their view on three statements:
• “Local residents are benefiting from the new tourism facilities built in this area.”
• “Local residents have better shopping opportunities because of tourism.”
• “Tourism has brought availability of more produces which are available in pesos.”
The responses are summarized in Table 12 and indicate that: (i) over 80 percent of respondents maintained that local residents are not benefiting from the newly-built tourism facilities in their area or have a neutral view; (ii) just over 20 percent of respondents believe that tourism has generated better local shopping opportunities; and (iii) nearly 64 percent of interviewees answered that tourism has not brought availability of more goods that can be purchased.
The analysis of the aggregate response to the three statements would seem to suggest, once again, that newly-built tourism-oriented infrastructures are destined for exclusive tourism consumption only, while local residents are not benefiting from them. Moreover, on the one hand, residents perceive tourism as a driver of local economic development in their area. On the other hand, they admit that tourism is contributing little to meeting residents’ shopping needs. It can be argued that tourism, and more generally the external sector, have triggered the availability of a wider variety of goods in Havana’s main shopping malls such as the “Cohiba” and “Carlos III” galleries. At the same time, such shopping centers are dollaroperated and are not accessible to everyone but mostly to dollars earners.
Lastly, residents were asked: “What services or infrastructures would you like to see in this area to make the most of your free time?” This question aimed at assessing how local urban settings could be improved to meet inhabitants’ and tourism recreational needs alike, avoiding skewed promotion policies. The answers to the question included a broad range of leisure- oriented infrastructures, ranging from personal care to cultural facilities. The order in which services and facilities were listed by residents were: gymnasia (n = 89); recreational centers for the elderly (n = 67); restaurants and cinemas (n = 63); dance saloons (n = 60); parks (n = 58); video rental shops (n = 52); cafeterias and discotheques (n = 47); libraries (n = 47); football pitches (n = 39); and clubs (n = 30). Seven respondents answered “other” without further specifications.
The response would seem to validate the claim voiced out by some Havana-based planners that many new recreational and leisure infrastructures are being built within hotels and tourism-oriented infrastructures. Hence, they are not serving the population at large. Havana’s inhabitants used to have unlimited access to such facilities until the late 1980s, when the Special Period brought about financial austerity and a division of international and domestic tourism circuits. This division is de facto prejudicing habaneros’ access to such facilities and undermining their right to leisure and entertainment. Moreover, despite the current tourism development strategy pursued for Havana that is helping the city to economically and environmentally revitalize some of its districts, it has not been exempt from criticisms. The analysis of current tourism infrastructures being developed in Havana reveals how the tourism industry’s efforts are skewed towards the promotion of the accommodation sector while, for example, night-life and shopping dimensions associated with tourism are still highly neglected.
Table 13 elucidates how, for example, out of 771 tourism-oriented infrastructures classified as such by Havana’s tourist board (OTH, 2002), there are only three discothèques and three party-venues (salón de fiesta). In contrast, the number of hotels has increased and the number of rooms available has tripled between 1988 and 2002, from 4,682 rooms to 12,002. Moreover, Table 13 shows figures for both national and international tourism. For example, 169 cafeterías, 119 shops, and 22 night clubs are likely to include small and run-down facilities used by Cubans only and unknown to the majority of international tourists. Hence, the number of recreational and night life facilities is likely to be smaller than the one suggested by the Havana Tourism Board.
There can be little doubt that the best recreational and night-life facilities oriented to both tourists and habaneros’ consumption are being built within Havana’s new and refurbished hotels rather than in the city at large. The rationale underpinning such strategy is unclear although two main explanations have been suggested. The first explanation holds that the Cuban leadership aims at controlling and minimizing interactions between tourists and Cubans. According to this argument, tourists can cause the transfer of social behaviors based on consumerism, materialism, and drug consumption, especially when it comes to night life, which are still relatively unknown to Cubans. Furthermore, tourists can encourage the transfer of new ideas and ideals to Cubans that portray the current stage of the Cuban socialist experiment in a negative light.
A second explanation for the skewed development of recreational facilities exclusively within hotels is linked to the criticism that tourism decision-making in Havana is currently permeated by un-integrated and insular planning. Thus, according to an official of the Oficina del Historiador, tourism planning in the majority of Havana’s new tourism poles suffers from short-sightedness and sectorial interest by tourism state holdings. In his view, MINTUR (Ministry of Tourism) investment projects on its holdings are still made on individual basis and limited to the construction plan of each infrastructure. Investments do not take into account the organic development of the area where such tourism infrastructures are found. Hence, investment plans lack a wider spatial, functional, and cross-sectorial vision concerning the overall growth of a city area and its multifaceted dimensions.
Many hotels in Havana have built their own discothéque and piano bar inside their premises, the most famous ones being the “Turquino” discotheque inside Hotel Habana Libre and the “Cohiba” discotheque within the Hotel Meliá Cohiba complex. Night clubs like these are often the only ones allowed to stay open until late throughout the week, and therefore attract young habaneros seeking amusements or entertainment during the week. Nonetheless, the entrance to these clubs is expensive and exclusively in U.S. dollars (usually US$ 10-20) or, in many instances, limited to tourists. Havana’s inhabitants earning in pesos are de facto precluded to enter these night clubs as they are often beyond their financial limits.
Such spaces can be considered to be urban tourism enclaves that prejudice local residents’ recreational needs. They serve to increase the cultural and social isolation and differences between urban dwellers and tourists through the establishment of spaces that are destined for tourist consumption only. The isolating effect of urban tourism enclaves is less divisive than their rural counterpart because of the nature of urban life. In fact, the interactions between residents and tourists in urban environments are not limited to night life, but continue throughout the day through a variety of economic, social and cultural transactions that occur in daily activities.
A second criticism directed towards Havana’s current tourism development strategy concerns the underdevelopment of the city shopping function and the limited presence of small retailing that is deemed a vital element of the tourism industry. Indeed retailing in Havana is still based on large State shops: the TRDs (Tiendas de Recaudación de Divisas). These shops often offer a limited variety of goods and are overstaffed. In other words, they display low productivity and marginal profitability. TRDs contribute to guarantee employment to a large sector of the population, but they under-perform in term of maximizing the potential revenues that could stem from the tourist sector. Old Havana is currently the only successful example of small retailing promotion. Here, officials of the Oficina del Historiador have correctly assessed the importance of tourism expenditures and local residents remittances that have become Cuba’s second source of hard currency. The Oficina has encouraged small retailing in the Old Colonial city streets, ranging from family souvenir shops and hand-made arts and crafts to catering, that attract hard currency from tourists and Cubans alike.
Residents’ participation in tourism planning and decision-making: Another objective that the survey intended to accomplish was to assess the extent to which residents’ and community inputs feed through the tourism planning and decision-making processes. This was done by asking residents to express their view on the statement that “Local residents are always audited directly or via delegates about tourist development plans in this area.” The city-level survey results (see Table 14) indicate that over two-thirds of respondents Disagreed or Strongly Disagreed with the statement. Just over ten percent of respondents had Neutral views on this statement, while the remaining one-tenth Agreed or Strongly Agreed. At the pole level, the survey response shows that Vedado is the city area where more interviewees did not agree (n = 34), while Old Havana is where residents perceived that they were consulted and informed most (n=12) with regards to tourism development plans in their area.
According to survey findings it can be concluded that residents’ involvement in urban tourism management is still far from satisfactory despite the Cuban Leadership’s rhetorical claims stating otherwise. Participatory planning in tourism, and it could be argued urban governance as a whole, in Havana is still imperfect due to weak participation by an important stakeholder of the tourism industry, namely, local residents. The inclusion of residents and newly-established actors of the emerging private sector into planning is crucial to prompt a change towards more democratic practices, the fostering of public participation, and more interactive governance in Havana. An increase of participatory planning at the policymaking stage would avoid the implementation of technocratic and blue print development projects and conflicts that may emerge in policy implementation. Moreover, more “inclusiveness” in planning would be instrumental in acknowledging that Havana’s dwellers have become de facto an important “stakeholder” of the tourism industry, whether they want to be or not.
Tourism has been a powerful force responsible for shaping the urban development of Havana during the Special Period. The Cuban capital is developing along its coastline according to urban growth patterns that resemble pre-revolutionary ones. This, in turn, is triggering the emergence of social, environmental, and economic dualities in Havana. Indeed, tourism is exacerbating environmental differences within city areas and testing Havana’s obsolete urban infrastructures. Moreover, tourism has yielded socioeconomic changes at the household and neighborhood levels and (re)introduced negative social phenomena, such as prostitution, that stem from new economic opportunities associated with tourist inflows.
The questionnaire survey responses, however, would seem to suggest that current levels, forms, and types of tourism development cannot be considered yet as a driver for urban environmental and social stresses. The analysis shows that tourism is still not engendering a significantly negative impact on Havana’s infrastructures and urban services. Furthermore, habaneros would still welcome more tourism development in their area.
A number of planning issues have emerged mainly regarding two tourist areas in Havana. Firstly, the future planning of tourism development in Old Havana will need to take into account the displacement effect of tourism concerning local residents’ daily activities and recreational meeting venues. Secondly, the promotion of a new centrality in Montebarreto, with an emphasis on economic activities linked to the external sector and the tourist industry, risks creating a divide between residents and newcomers in terms of services provision and access to urban facilities. The careful planning of this area will also avoid the exacerbation of local environmental problems such as flooding and traffic congestion.
At the city level, the strategic planning of tourism ought to aim at developing more recreational and night life facilities outside hotels and other tourism oriented facilities. This will enable to meet tourists and Havana residents’ leisure needs alike. Lastly, tourism promotion so far has been primarily based on the construction of new accommodations. In the future, Havana’s tourism industry should increase and diversify the supply of tourism services and facilities outside the accommodations segment.
1. Residents were allowed multiple choice answers; therefore, partial percentages do not always add up to the total.
2. Cuban economic data are based on Global Social Product (GSP) that differs from Western Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in two main fashions. Firstly, the economic sectors are divided into “productive” and “non-productive” spheres. Secondly, the GDP includes value-added and non-productive services, while the GSP assesses gross value and excludes non-productive services.