It wasn’t so long ago — you can measure the time in months — that heading to Cuba as an American tourist was a somewhat illicit affair, not worth the effort for all but the most adventurous of travelers. After President Obama, who recently visited the island 90 miles south of Key West, eased travel restrictions, airlines rushed to apply for flight permissions, AirBnB set up shop on the island, and Americans began to make trips.
Last year American tourist visits rose 77% to 161,000. They are growing just as quickly this year. And while we assume lots of rum is being sipped and cigars smoked, it appears that Americans have wrecked havoc on a different sector of the isolated island’s communist economy:
Cubans are facing a shortage of their favourite brands of beer Cristal and Bucanero, as a surge in American tourists and proliferation of new private watering holes put the island’s main brewery under strain.
Cuba’s main brewer Bucanero is considering opening a new plant to keep up with the demands of thirsty tourists descending on the country – last year Cuba welcomed a record 3.5 million visitors, up 17 per cent on the previous year.
That’s right, American tourists are causing product shortages in a post-embargo world.
Opening up a new brewery won’t happen overnight, so in the meantime, Cuba’s big beer companies are looking abroad for help:
Local media reported that Cuba’s breweries signed contracts this week for more than 33 million cases of beer at a business in Havana, considerably more than their current production capability will allow. Bucanero is reportedly planning to import three million cases of beer from Dominica to keep up with demand.
You open the door to American tourists and the next thing you know you are keg deep in international trade talks. We wonder if communism will survive this surge of suds…