Granma International
October 28, 2004

Tourists advised to avoid using U.S. dollars in Cuba


TOURISM Minister Manuel Marrero has recommended that tourists intending to visit Cuba from November 8 onward should avoid using U.S. dollars and, instead, bring other convertible currencies.

At a press conference Marrero stated: "it is recommended that from that date, visitors to the country not carry U.S. dollars and instead bring euros, Canadian dollars, GBP sterling, or Swiss francs, whatever is be easier and more economical. "

He clarified, however, that tourists who so wish will be able to use U.S. dollars, although he pointed out that a surcharge of 10% will be applied when purchasing convertible pesos, a measure announced last Monday by President Fidel Castro.

In his speech, Marrero said that alongside the circulation of convertible pesos, the euro is an alternative currency in specific locations in six tourism complexes that currently offer this service: Varadero, Jardines del Rey (Ciego de Avila province) Santa Lucia (Camag?ey), Covarrubias in Las Tunas, the tourist area of Holguín, and Cayo Largo del Sur in the vicinity of the Isle of Youth.

In a detailed report on the matter, the minister stated that this measure (the 10% surcharge on exchanging dollars for convertible pesos) "has not been adopted to generate additional income, but to discourage the use and actual circulation of U.S. dollars and to offset the costs and risks stemming from the use of this currency within the national economy."

He highlighted that 75% of tourists who travel to Cuba habitually use currency that can be exchanged for convertible pesos in any establishment, simply based on the international market rate of exchange (without any additional surcharge)

The majority of visitors to Cuba come from Canada (28%), the European countries (40%) including the United Kingdom (7%), he emphasized.

He also announced that they will be able to continue using international credit and debit cards accepted in Cuba, either to make payments or to withdraw cash, for which nobody will be surcharged, including credit cards issued in U.S. dollars.

From November 8, prices at international marinas, terminals, cruise docks and duty free stores at the airports will be in convertible pesos, but U.S. dollars will be accepted with the announced surcharge of 10%. (PL)