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The Cuban alternative to neoliberalism: Linkages between local production and tourism after 1990


  • Laura J. Enríquez


Purpose - In response to its profound economic crisis, in the 1990s Cuba adopted a tourism-based development strategy. As an approach to development, tourism has been both heralded and critiqued. One concern is that for less diversified economies it has large imported input requirements. The purpose of this paper is to analyze Cuba's efforts to address this weakness. Design/methodology/approach - The paper draws on interviews conducted with Cuban policy makers and researchers working in the area of tourism, and one hotelier operating in Cuba. Also, extensive secondary data collected while conducting the fieldwork in Cuba and relevant existing literature are reviewed. Findings - It is found that Cuba has increased significantly its reliance on domestic production for inputs for its tourist sector since the mid-1990s, thereby reducing its dependence on imported inputs. Practical implications - These findings suggest that, by reconfiguring domestic production to provide inputs for the tourism sector, foreign exchange leakages typically associated with tourist development in less diversified economies can be diminished and that it can provide an infusion of foreign exchange and investment that benefits the local economy. Social implications - This case presents an alternative to the neoliberal approach to policy making in the Global South, one that has the potential to avoid some of the negative social and economic consequences of that approach. Originality/value - In addition to highlighting the alternative represented by Cuba's approach to tourism, the paper evaluates the extent to which it approximated the novel strategy of development proposed by the neostructuralists almost simultaneously. It concludes that Cuba's approach did approximate the neostructural model in a number of important ways.

Suggested Citation

  • Laura J. Enríquez, 2010. "The Cuban alternative to neoliberalism: Linkages between local production and tourism after 1990," International Journal of Development Issues, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 9(2), pages 92-112, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijdipp:v:9:y:2010:i:2:p:92-112

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Camilla Jensen, 2003. "Socialism, Spillovers and Markets in Cuba," Post-Communist Economies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 15(3), pages 435-459.
    2. Mesa-Lago, Carmelo, 2005. "Social and economic problems in Cuba during the crisis and subsequent recovery," Revista CEPAL, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), August.
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