By Benjamin Flowers
The Belize Tourism Industry Association (BTIA) this week, said that the opening of the Cuban market as a destination for United States tourists poses no short-term threat for Belize’s tourism industry.
BTIA President, Osmani Salas, told the Reporter this week that since Cuba is still in transition, only being unembargoed by the US last month, it will take the country some time before it develops as a tourist destination.
Salas explained that he recently returned from a week-long trip to Cuba, and had the opportunity to assess for himself the country’s tourism product.
“It’s very expensive in comparison to Belize, we are way ahead of them in terms of customer service, and the infrastructure has a ways to go in terms of tourism.” Salas said. “Their potential is tremendous, but we still have unique things to offer that Cuba doesn’t.”
Since the U.S. announced in December 2014, numerous articles have been written by sources such as the University of Pensylvania, Miami Herald, Antellian Media Group, Caribbean 360. com, and Caribbeannewsnow.com, on the possible negative impact it will have on tourism in the Caribbean.
Many authors believe that with the resumption of relations, US tourists will begin concentrating on Cuba as a destination, causing other destinations to suffer from the loss.
The Reporter reached out to the Belize Tourism Board several times to comment on the issue. However, to date, the BTB haschosen not to respond.
In 1961, the U.S. severed diplomatic ties with Cuba; and officially resumed them in July 2015.