Cubans can now stay in island’s luxury resorts

April 1st, 2008 - 1:31 am ICT by admin  

Havana, March 31 (DPA) Cubans are now allowed to lodge in the communist island’s luxury hotels and resorts, the latest move in the lifting of commercial restrictions since Raul Castro became president last month. Hotel sources told DPA Monday that the move was introduced at midnight, in a framework of reform that Castro has undertaken since he was elected to replace his ailing brother Fidel Castro.

“Yes, Cubans can now register,” the reception desk at the Hotel Nacional told DPA.

Several other luxury hotels in the Cuban capital answered along similar lines, while others, like the Melia Cohiba, did not deny it but said they have “not yet received orientation” on the subject.

Granting free access to all hotels on the island was one of the reforms that had been speculated upon since Raul Castro indicated weeks ago that he would move to end an “excess in prohibitions and rules” within the “coming weeks”.

Technically, no additional legislation was required, since it was just a matter of revoking a special measure undertaken to boost tourism during the severe economic crisis in Cuba in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

Indeed, the Cuban constitution grants all citizens the right to enjoy “the same spas, beaches, parks, social circles and other centres for culture, sports, recreation and rest”.

On Friday, it was announced that Cubans would soon be able to purchase cellphones - currently very restricted on the communist island.

Earlier last week, restrictions were lifted on the retail sale to the general public of computers, television sets, video players and other electronic home appliances.

Other reforms include the sale of some tools for farmers that have already started in some provinces after only a passing mention on state radio.

Other changes being mooted in the official media include more flexible migration rules.

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