Tags: Cuba | Golf | Castro | Tourism

Cuba Tees Up Golf Courses to Swing Fore Tourist Gold

Wednesday, 25 May 2011 04:37 PM

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Cuba's communist government will allow developers to build golf resorts with private residences, ending the state’s official antipathy toward a sport that Fidel Castro once banned as a capitalist excess, The New York Times reports. The island nation, which has just one 18-hole course, is scheduled to break ground in September on the first of what could be as many as 16 luxury links estates.

Fidel Castro, Cuba, golf courses
Before Fidel Castro denounced golf as a capitalist excess, he sculled a few shots himself. (Getty Images Photo)
It seems unlikely that ordinary Cubans will be allowed to play the courses, never mind buy the houses, if the country’s policies on tourism and property ownership are any indication. Cuba already has luxury hotels where locals can take jobs but cannot stay as guests.


“How will that work out?” said John Kavulich, a senior adviser for the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council. “Allowing someone to work there and allowing someone to prosper there is an immense deep ravine for the government.”

But Cuba, which severely limits free enterprise and private property rights, and has spent half a century under a U.S. trade embargo, wants more tourist dollars for its struggling economy. The government has licensed four resort and golf-course companies — none from the United States — to start building facilities.

“We were told this foray is the top priority in foreign investment,” said Canadian golf course architect Graham Cooke, who is designing a $410 million project in Holguin Province, the region where Castro grew up.

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