economic scarcity, traditional jobs, economic sector, luxury items, taxies
Tourism is the only economic sector that has grown at approximately 10 percent per year over the past 20 years. The government depends on the profits of tourism, now reaching nearly $1 billion annually, to bring in valuable foreign currency. The number of people vacationing in Cuba grew from only 3,000 in 1973 to 326,000 in 1989, and to 1.7 million in 2000. The government hopes to bring more than 2 million tourists to Cuba by the year 2000.
Yet tourism has intensified dissatisfaction with the government’s solutions to economic scarcity. Foreigners dine at well-stocked restaurants and shop in luxury stores, while Cubans do without subsistence and luxury items. The best hotels and beaches bar access to Cubans, who have been repeatedly told since the revolution that each citizen has the right to a share of all national goods. In order to gain access to dollars, many Cubans have left their traditional jobs to drive taxies and provide services in tourism. Prostitution, which was practically eliminated in the years following the revolution, has surpassed prerevolutionary levels. Often, the prostitutes are women and men with high levels of education, all of whom are anxious to have access to tourist dollars.
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