Castro turns to tourism

1992 Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a reluctant Fidel Castro turned to tourism as his country’s new economic salvation. Cuba opened up scores of hotels and resorts, and launched Madison-Avenue-style ad campaigns to lure European and Canadian tourists to the island with its remarkable history and its glorious beaches.

It worked. By 1996, tourism had become Cuba’s biggest source of foreign exchange and the country was welcoming more than a million tourists a year. Not bad, considering that, a decade earlier, fewer than 150,000 tourists had made the island their vacation destination. And the government was now optimistically predicting it could goose the growing tourist count by another 200,000 in 1997.