There are 47,960 women working in Cuba's tourist sector. Photo: José Manuel Correa

For the majority of women, taking on a leadership role requires a great deal of sacrifice, according to Yeny Tamayo González, management personnel director at the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur), who notes that occupying such a position is her greatest challenge, since she is also responsible for a large family and her spouse is a director, as well.

The responsibility borne by women in management positions, in the country’s most dynamic sector is evidence that there are no limits on their professional development in Cuba. With a view toward closing the gap between men and women in tourism, under the maxim of "Strength and tact, a style of our own," the Third National Workshop on Women in Tourism was held at the Habana Libre Hotel, dedicated to Cuban women of all times, known for their exemplary tenacity, affection, and devotion.

The event also served as a platform for a posthumous tribute to journalist Isabel Moya, editor of the magazine Mujeres, who was a defender of women's rights her entire life.

In a statement to Granma International, Teresa Amarelle Boué, a member of the Party Central Committee Political Bureau and secretary general of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), commented that the so-called "glass ceiling" that limits women's advancement in the workforce, is still a problem around the world, and was broadly discussed during the event.

"I think that in Cuba we have advanced a great deal, and as our beloved Isabel Moya said, we have spread our wings. Women in our country hold leadership positions at all levels. An example of this is that Mintur periodically holds these gatherings of female directors, and analyzes how to incorporate the female workforce in the sector. This is indicative of how much we have evolved."

Amarelle Boué was quick to explain that not everything has been accomplished, there is still much to do, as was seen in the presentations made during the workshop.

Among the main issues addressed were the concerns of women attempting to reconcile the demands of their families and those of a management position.

"I think what is most important is identifying these vulnerabilities," she said.

"This is not about Mintur alone, but rather society as a whole, contributing so women can continue occupying positions of responsibility in this sector. There is political will at the highest level within the ministry, to achieve better outcomes. And the FMC, looking to the upcoming 10th Congress, proposes discussing efforts underway in strategic sectors to incorporate a greater number of women in the workforce."

Also analyzed during the event was the willingness of women to assume important roles, and the conclusion was drawn that, despite obstacles that may exist, there is evidence that it can be done.

The FMC leader noted that stereotypes which have not yet been eliminated create challenges for women attempting to reconcile family life with life outside the home; but insisted that efforts to make this possible must continue.

Likewise, Manuel Marrero Cruz, Minister of Tourism, referred to the outstanding role of women in Mintur, saying, "There are 47,960 women working in tourism, representing 44.55% of all workers. Of this number, 1,788 are cadres. This reflects our evolution in terms of the incorporation of more women, although we are still not satisfied. If this is not addressed intentionally, progress will not be made at the rate we need, because we are conscious of the potential that exists."

Marrero Cruz noted as an example that, over the last 12 years, the number of women in management has grown from 29% to 40% of the total.


During the meeting,Marrero recalled the challenge faced by the country following Hurricane Irma, which cased extensive damage in all tourist areas across the island.

"I call this an exceptional situation and to resolve it, exceptional measures were adopted. All forces came together; priorities were established; new investment projects were halted; all human and material resources were directed toward the principal task, that was recovery," he stated.

Added to this challenge is that Cuba continues to be the only country which, by law, U.S. citizens are not allowed to visit as tourists, and figures among the countries Washington has singled out with travel advisories, recommending that trips to Cuba be "reconsidered."Nonetheless, the island was recently recognized as the safest country for tourism, during the 38th edition of the International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Spain, and by the month of March, the year's first million visitors had arrived.Marrero also discussed the Tourism Fair, dedicated this year to the United Kingdom and to beach vacations, to be held May 2-5, on Santa María Key. He explained that the decision was made to use this event to re-launch this tourist destination, which features some 12,000 hotel rooms.

Among the principal activities planned is the presentation of another destination, the municipality of Sagua la Grande, where several hotels and a marina are being constructed. Cultural institutions, parks, and other sites are being refurbished, with a view toward making the area more attractive to visitors.

Planned next are the inauguration of new accommodations for participants in tours in the municipal seat of Sagua, as well as in Remedios and Caibarién.

Among other projections, it was reported that Gaviota is finalizing construction of three hotels on Santa María Key, one of which will serve as the site of the Fair's principal activities.


• Tourism, perhaps, offers women better opportunities than other sectors of the economy in terms of leadership and professional development. In other parts of the world, however, the gap is still significant.

• A report by the World Tourism Organization and the United Nations indicates that women are well represented in the sector, in service and administrative jobs, but not in professional positions, and earn 10 to 15% less than their male counterparts.

• According to the World Bank, the Middle East and North Africa have some of the world's most important historical and cultural sites, as well as beautiful landscapes, but in terms of female participation in tourism, they are behind places like Nicaragua and Panama, where more than 70% of employees in the sector are female.