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Cuba gets tough on tourism


HAVANA, Cuba (CNN) -- In a move intended to centralize and strengthen Communist Party control of Cuban society, the island's government has introduced regulations barring Cubans who work in the tourist industry "from having personal contact with foreigners."

Resolution 10, issued by the Tourism Ministry, forbids employees -- from waiters to high-level executives -- from accepting tips, gifts and invitations from foreigners and demands that Cubans' contact with non-Cubans be restricted "to that which is absolutely necessary."

The new law also requires a witness to be present during business negotiations with foreigners.

The segregation rules go far beyond norms applied in most of the rest of the world. For example, any non-professional contact with a foreigner, not just by an employee but also by any member of his or her family, must be reported to a superior within 72 hours.

Staff members are now required to report any foreigner whose behavior or comments are considered offensive to the Cuban government.

They are further instructed to "be vigilant at all times of any deed or attitude that could be harmful to the State." The norms also apply to Tourist Ministry employees who work abroad.

Personal friendships with foreigners are forbidden for the more than 100,000 Cubans who work in tourism, Cuba's largest industry.

Staff members are also instructed to refuse all personal invitations from diplomats, business associates and even colleagues, if they are foreigners.

The rules could have far-reaching effects: most Cuban hotels are managed by representatives of overseas hotel chains.

The segregation measures went into effect last month in most tourist resorts and are expected to go into effect shortly in the capital.

One foreign hotel manager likened the measures to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

Cuban and overseas workers interviewed by CNN say the restrictions will be almost impossible to enforce, especially the prohibition on accepting tips and cultivating friendships.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the resulting cutoff of Soviet subsidies to Cuba, the Castro government introduced tourism "as a necessary evil," regarding it as a critical source of foreign exchange, but also a corrupting capitalist influence in Cuban society.

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