Crime and the Tourism Industry

Primary Analyst: Rhea Kumar

Team Leader: Emily Dolan

The tourist industry in Cuba has experienced shifts throughout the past decade due to many external factors, including crime.  The types of crimes that target tourists are predominantly non-violent in nature. Such crimes include pickpocketing, purse snatching, fraud schemes and theft from unoccupied cars, hotel rooms and or dwellings. The lifted embargo has allowed for the number of American travelers visiting Cuba to increase, and as a result of this, the crime rate has also increased.

The cause for this can be explained by the perception that Cubans hold towards American travelers, as Americans are perceived to be wealthy and easily targeted. Non-violent crimes often occur in tourist related areas such as beaches, hotels, restaurants and shops.

 In regards to violent crime, Cuban officials rarely publish statistics on crime rates and therefore it is difficult to decipher whether Cuba is an outlier when it comes to violence or if government officials are underreporting crimes in order to attract tourists. Violent crimes are rarely if at all directed towards tourists, as firearm ownership rates in Cuba are one of the lowest in the world. As a result, in 2010, 71.8 percent of all Cuban homicides were committed with knives-all of which were not tourist related.

Tourism is an industry that is heavily protected by Cuban police officials because they are well aware that tourism is essential to the Cuban economy. Therefore, if a Cuban citizen hassles a tourist, they will face a larger penalty than if they were to hassle another citizen. Due to the slow increase in tourist-related non-violent crimes, the Cuban government is making tourist safety a top priority to ensure that Americans and other prospective tourists are not hesitant to visit. The Cuban governments priority to ensure the safety of its tourists will allow for business opportunities to flourish.