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Tourism Draining Cuba’s Beer Supplies

Tourism Draining Cuba’s Beer Supplies
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Shortages in beer production and failure to meet demand in stores, hotels, and inns in Cuba are due to increased U.S tourism, the island’s producers have said. To solve this dilemma, the island’s breweries have considered opening a new plant and importing beer from other countries.

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Cuban Beer Shortage

As U.S. tourists begin to visit Cuba in higher numbers, brands such as Cristal and Buncanero have suddenly become overwhelmed, finding themselves unable to keep up with rising demand.

Breweries in Cuba have recently signed contracts for more than 33 million cases, far more than current production will allow. Bucanero, which produces four local beers, has had to import 3 million cases from the Dominican brewer Presidente to supplement its 19 million cases planned for production.

American tourists have begun visiting Cuba in staggering numbers after President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions. This escalation in tourism is expected to continue, yet Americans can’t shoulder all of the responsibility for the beer shortages.

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Cuba is currently the second-most visited Caribbean island and from 2014 to 2015 it received a 17% increase in tourism, with Americans only accounting for 161,000 of the 3.5 million foreign visitors. Regardless, this is still a 77% increase over the course of a year, which is expected to increase even more in 2016.

With this new boost in tourism rates, the country’s smaller restaurants and hotels which cater to tourists are not only experiencing shortages in beer, but also enjoying an economic boom. This is a result of president Raul Castro’s decision to remove the Communist state from small-scale economic activities five years ago.

“Private bars can go out and find supplies where they can. I can only sell what the government gives me,” said the manager of a state-run bar. That bar ran out of beer, but the private bar upstairs was well-stocked with cold bottles of brew.

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