Growth in Cuba private sector restaurants, lodging
Havana, May 11 (IANS/EFE) Cuba currently has 1,618 restaurants and 5,207 lodgings within the non-state-run sector after the reforms implemented by the government of Raul Castro to increase the scope for private enterprise, the official daily Juventud Rebelde reported Thursday.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said that "the majority (of those facilities) are competitive products of high quality and complement the supply that the country places at the disposition of travellers".
Marrero made his remarks during the 32nd International Tourism Fair, which is being held this week on the northern keys in the central province of Villa Clara.
The minister said that the government has developed non-state activities in the areas of lodging, gastronomy and other services as part of implementing the economic reforms begun in October 2010.
The push to expand self-employment and small business has been one of the main elements of the plan to "update" the socialist model and it is being handled as a labour alternative in keeping with the process of reducing the huge state payroll.
The opening of new private restaurants, known as "paladares", and the provision of homes or rooms for tourist rentals has been one of the most visible effects of the adjustments launched by President Castro.
In the case of restaurants, in 2010 the government authorized such businesses to be able to seat up to 20 customers instead of the 12 that up to that time had been allowed.
As part of the measures to make self-employment opportunities more flexible, a year ago that figure was raised to a maximum of 50 diners and the hiring of labour by individuals was facilitated.
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