A daily look at deals, events and transactions of note for trade and investment in Cuba.
Tour operators ready to move forward on Cuba: Some tour operators say the new regulations on travel and business with Cuba aren’t as bad as they had feared. They say the ban on individual “people-to-people” travel won’t affect their tours. Tour operators are also confident they can keep U.S. travelers away from hotels and businesses that are affiliated with Cuba’s military, intelligence or security services. (Travel Market)
Internet access improves, but Cuba keeps “not free” status: Even though Cuba has taken steps to improve internet access, it remains one of the least connected and most censored countries in the world, according to a new report from Freedom House. The Cuban government has improved internet access by installing more public wifi hotspots, lowering the cost of connecting to the web, and making home internet connections legally available. However, the government has “continued to exert control over the digital landscape by blocking critical independent news sites, removing or blocking SMS content deemed ‘counter-revolutionary,’ and arresting or harassing online writers.” (Freedom House)
A plea to keep processing visas for Cubans: The U.S. Embassy in Havana should continue to process visas for Cubans while the investigation into the mysterious injuries suffered by U.S. diplomats in Cuba continues, according to a Tampa Bay Times editorial. Not processing visas “only hurts ordinary Cubans and their Tampa Bay relatives, not the island’s communist government, and it is yet another example of the harm from this pinched approach to foreign policy,” the editorial said. (Tampa Bay Times)
Embassy issues keep Cuban singer out of Minnesota: Daymé Arocena – an artist The Guardian called “Cuba’s finest young female singer” – had to reschedule a Saturday performance in Minnesota because of issues related to closures and staff reductions at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. A website promoting Arocena’s show said the singer has been approved to enter the U.S., but her group has not yet been able to “secure the visa stamps in their passport for entry.” The show is now scheduled for May 3. (St. Cloud Times)
Entrepreneurial partnership: NostaligiCar, a Havana business that takes tourists on classic car tours, has partnered with Airbnb to give package deals to visitors. In addition to getting a tour through the city or countryside, participants of the Airbnb package visit the garage where NostalgiCar restores classic cars to their former glory. (Local 10 News)
Cuban slogan tees capture the world’s attention: Clandestina, a brick-and-mortar clothing studio and shop in Old Havana, sells slogan tees that stand out compared to the shirts sold in most of Cuba’s souvenir shops. The shop has boosted its global profile by launching an e-commerce site that sends shirt designs to American manufacturing companies, which then produce and ship the finished pieces to customers in the U.S. (Vogue)