The Cuban government ended a contract with the company administering the island’s cruise terminals following remarks by President Fidel Castro that cruise ships exploit small Caribbean countries and were no longer welcome in Cuba.
A Council of State resolution signed Aug. 2 and published in last week’s Official Gazette ended a seven-year relationship with the Italian company Silares Terminales del Caribe, which operated here as a mixed-enterprise business with the island’s CUBANCO S.A.
Silares will no longer administer docking operations, and ownership of all equipment and infrastructure will revert back to the state, the resolution said.
The resolution didn’t say whether cruise ships would be able to come to Cuba in the future under different arrangements. The tourism ministry was contacted by The Associated Press but made no comment.
Silares officials also did not respond to requests for an interview.
In a May speech, Castro said fellow Caribbean states were informed that Cuba would not be accepting more cruise ships, as tourists coming in on them “leave their trash ... for a few miserable cents.”
Cuba earlier promoted cruise ships as part of a steadily growing tourism industry that brought more than 2 million visitors to the island last year, making it a major source of foreign exchange revenue. The island received about 45,000 cruise visitors in 2002 and 60,000 in 2003, according to Silares.
The contract with Silares dates back to October 1998. The group worked with 14 cruise ship lines primarily from France, Great Britain and Germany.