Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


History (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Steve Stein

Second Committee Member

Robin Bachin

Third Committee Member

Bruce Bagley

Fourth Committee Member

Eduardo Elena


My dissertation on Cuban tourism links political, economic, social, and cultural history to show how the development of tourism on the island between 1945 and 2007 has been crucial in helping to cultivate identities for Cuba and the Cuban people on multiple levels. I focus on three distinct periods - 1945 to 1958, 1959 to 1979, and 1980 to 2007. While significant shifts occurred within each of these three phases, this periodization best illuminates the relationship between tourism development and identity. The fall of the Soviet Union, for example, certainly altered the pace of the industry's growth. Arrivals soared beginning in the 1990s, yet much of the institutional framework for conditioning the relationships between touristic actors had been established years earlier. Cuban planners had begun to target a range of specific markets by 1980, over a decade before the economic strife of the 'Special Period' in the early 1990s virtually forced them to move in this direction. For the entire period between 1945 and 2007, tourism and Cuban identity were linked in two very important ways. Tourism provided a lens for foreign visitors to view the island, its people, and its culture; to know what it meant to be Cuban. As well, the industry offered a framework for powerful interests to control the behaviors of Cuban citizens; to instruct them on how to be Cuban.


Cuban; Cuban Revolution; Fidel Castro; Tipping; Sex Tourism; Prostitution; Planning; Holiday; Canada; United States; Soviet Union; Cuba; Tourism; Identity; Cubanidad; Tourists; Political; Economic; Cultural; Social; Travel; Casino; Tours; Guidebooks