Media lies about tourism in Cuba

Campaign News | Monday, 21 March 2005

Tipping has not been banned

LONDON - Cuban support groups in the UK and Europe have condemned sections of the international media for misreporting a ruling from the Tourism Ministry in Havana. Reports circulating around the world allege that the ministry has imposed restrictions on the contact that Cuban tourist workers may have with tourists and that tipping has been banned.

In a report on the introduction of so-called Resolution 10, CNN said, “The island's government has introduced regulations barring Cubans who work in the tourist industry from having personal contact with foreigners.

“Resolution 10, issued by the Tourism Ministry, forbids employees -- from waiters to high-level executives -- from accepting tips, gifts and invitations from foreigners and demands that Cubans' contact with non-Cubans be restricted to that which is absolutely necessary," said CNN.

A similar take on Resolution 10 was made by the BBC and the international news agency, Reuters, reported "Accepting gratuities outlawed in Cuba".

This is not correct.

Resolution 10 is not directed at tourist workers in Cuban hotels and resorts. It is addressed to Cuban tourism officials and diplomats who travel abroad on business, and is a code of conduct, ethics and professional standards to prevent corruption and personal gain from official trips overseas.

Resolution 10 in Cuba does not prevent or deter tipping in Cuba. Tourist workers - especially waiters and porters - all over the world depend on tips or gratuities from satisfied customers or service charges added to a bar bill or menu prices, to make up their small wages to a decent income.

It has nothing to say about tourism workers at home in Cuba. The "gifts" that Resolution 10 refers to are not "tips" but potential bribes to Cuban representatives for securing business from rich countries, and Resolution 10 advises officials not to be seduced by lavish entertainment on business trips which may exceed what they are used to while doing business in Cuba.

The regulations promulgated in Havana are in line with codes of conduct for government officials from the UK and the USA, who are required to declare any gifts accepted from hosts on official business trips overseas.

The precise text of the Cuban regulations requires tourism officials and diplomats on trips outside the country to “Reject any offers such as remunerations, gifts, contributions, lodging, or attentions that undermine dignity and respect and create compromising situations foreign to the healthy spirit of collaboration that should characterize relations between the parties. Gifts should always be turned over to the director of the unit, who will determine their disposition and put in writing the decision taken.”

The regulation on contact with foreigners is clearly aimed at preventing corruption or personal gain by officials in the course of their business overseas and requires that they “Reject any invitation of a personal nature for one's own benefit, for the benefit of family members or friends, offered by partners, collaborators, clients, providers, foreign government officials, diplomats, or any other foreign personnel with whom one has established ties as a consequence of carrying out one's professional or work duties."

Resolution 10 makes no reference to tourism workers providing hospitality services in Cuban hotels and resorts, and the advice from tour operators is to give tips as usual for good service.

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