Cuba initiative to lure Chinese tourists away from Asia
Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism has bought ads plastered across buses in Shanghai, Beijing, and Ghangzhou encouraging Chinese tourists to visit the communist island, in an attempt to replace the millions lost in tourism revenue following President Donald Trump’s decision to ban cruise ship voyages from America to Cuba.
The ad campaign is called “Authentic Cuba” and is in part meant as a celebration of the 500th anniversary of the founding of Havana by the Spanish in 1519.
According to Diario de Cuba, the campaign launched this week and adorns Chinese buses with iconic Havana images like the Malecón, the city’s seawall, and the Havana Bay, as well images of tourists scuba diving and engaging in other aquatic activities.
Cuba Sí, a pro-Castro regime outlet, detailed that the ads were placed on buses whose routes hit major business centers and “centers of touristic importance in the three cities,” so as to maximize the possibility of attracting wealthy Communist Party members.
The campaign is the third of its kind by the tourism ministry in China.
China and Cuba enjoy close ties as fellow communist countries. In both, the Communist Party is the supreme organ of governance and its chairman the most powerful man in the country.
Both also maintain a largely ceremonial office of the presidency that is not elected by direct vote and serves primarily to help impose the will of the chairman on the rubber-stamp legislature.
In China, both the chairman and president titles fall on Xi Jinping, rendering the presidency obsolete
Due to his advanced age, Cuban dictator Raúl Castro handed the presidency to Miguel Díaz-Canel last year while retaining the chairman title.
As president, Díaz-Canel traveled to Asia last November, stopping in Beijing to meet with Xi. During that encounter, Díaz-Canel promised to help boost the Chinese economy by bringing the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to the Americas.
The BRI is a global infrastructure plan that began with China committing to recreating the ancient Silk Road, the route that connected Beijing to Europe for commerce.
The BRI added a maritime component through the South China Sea, with the ultimate goal of connecting Asia to Western Europe.
As the project grew, Xi expanded the scope of the BRI greatly beyond the original Silk Road into Africa and Latin America.
American officials have identified the BRI as a national security threat, as its projects often require developing countries to take out predatory loans from China, accept large waves of Communist Party approved migrant workers, and ultimately hand over its territory to the Chinese.
Díaz-Canel committed to signing up for BRI projects in November, placing the plan 90 miles from American shores.