There Isn’t Enough Beer For So Many ‘Yumas’
14ymedio, Zunilda Mata, Viñales and Havana, 6 February 2016 – First they ran out of water bottles, then packaged juices became scarce, and now it is difficult to find fresh fruit. This is how a hostess of tourist rooms in Viñales describes the situation there with the significant increase of tourism in Cuba and the problems of supplies.
During 2015, 3,524,779 foreign visitors arrived on the island, according to the latest official figures, an increase of some 17.4% over the prior year. However, the number of hotel rooms and private homes offering accommodation has not grown just as quickly. Other services, such as airports, food services and transportation, have also appeared to be overwhelmed by the flood.
The beautiful valley of Viñales, with its attractive mogotes and range of nature tourism, has experienced months of great demand. “Now we have more tourists here than locals,” exaggerates Paco, an 81-year-old who owns a house near the well-known Indian Cave. From his doorway he can see the incessant caravan of buses that brings visitors to the beautiful underground attraction.
“Before I sat down here,” he notes from his wooden armchair, “I saw at least ten To one side of his house, a family that owns a private restaurant reinforces Paco’s view. “We are struggling to maintain our menu, because between the shortages and the number of tourists that are coming it’s getting very difficult,” says Zoila, the restaurant’s cook.
The market stalls show the effects of the increased demand. Every day 5,000 tourists visit Viñales, slightly more than one-sixth of the number of residents. They come looking for products like fresh fruit, lobster, shrimp, rum, beer and, of course, the local tobacco. “Sometimes we have to go to other towns to find papayas and oranges for breakfast,” says a woman who rents rooms to tourists.
She acknowledges, however, that she is “happy” with the surge of visitors. “Bring more, we’re profiting,” she repeats a very popular phrase exuding optimism, although she would like to improve the town’s infrastructure, “to solve these bottlenecks.”
There are 60 private sector restaurants in the Viñales valley with a high demand for vegetables, fruits and meats. A good share of them are supplied by the illegal market and buy directly from the farmers. “We only have imported beer,” says a sign outside one private restaurant. The local beers, Cristal and Bucanero “are not available because the ‘yumas’ [foreigners] arrive very thirsty,” a waiter comments jokingly.