Danay Milagros Bulnes Mann

Shopping tourism in Cuba: a mix of leisure, art and gastronomy

Danay Milagros Bulnes Mann

Shopping tourism in Cuba: a mix of leisure, art and gastronomy

Tourism demand is made up of consumers who are able and willing to temporarily enjoy a set of attractions and activities in places other than their usual place of work and residence. This is done through the purchase of tourism products. The consumption of these attractions and the realization of different activities correspond to the motivations of this demand, which is why the study and analysis of their behavior are essential for the conformation of the offer. A competitive and differentiating element for the development of tourist destinations is the diversification of their tourist offer. Taking into account the behavior and preferences of demand makes it possible to design and manage offers that are more in line with their demands. In this sense, the diversification of the offer from different tourist modalities is of great relevance from a theoretical and practical point of view. 

This means that, in order to study the modalities, it is essential to analyze the consumption patterns of the segments of tourism demand and to identify combinations of tourism products on the supply side.

Cuba is one of the countries that has bet on tourism as a driving force and strategic sector, it is recognized worldwide for sun and beach tourism, however, the attraction of new markets leads to the diversification of supply and the presentation of new tourism products. 

This is the case of the Russian and Chinese markets, which occupy the first places in international travel expenditures, whose main travel motivations are sun and beach, shopping, nature, culture and traditions. 

Analyzing the opportunity that both markets represent, a segmentation by benefits was made according to the shopping tourism modality in Havana, since it would be the most innovative proposal, in which three clusters were identified in each one:

The most attractive segment in general, in the Russian market is Cluster 1, which is made up of mostly men between 40 and 60 years of age and with a medium-high and high purchasing power. They visit Havana for the second time, organized their trip through travel agencies and stay in hotels mainly. They usually travel with friends and as a couple and among the main activities they do during their trips are shopping, sightseeing, visiting museums and strolling. When they go shopping, they usually buy alcoholic beverages, souvenirs and handicrafts. In terms of benefits sought, they attach greater importance to the right value for money when shopping, as well as to the existence of a large number of attractions and a variety of activities to do in the destination, and to a lesser extent to the existence of discount policies and the development of the fashion and technology industry. They place value on exclusivity and staff attention in shopping malls.

As for the Chinese market, the most attractive cluster is number 3: "Friends of Cuba". These tourists attach greater importance to the mastery of their language, the presence of cultural, historical and heritage attractions in the destination and the personalized attention in the establishments. On average, they value the right quality-price ratio, the variety of brands and products and the presence of luxury brands. They are less interested in technological development and the development of the fashion industry. 

The profile of the segment is mainly composed of men between 45 and over 60 years old, with a high and medium-high purchasing power mainly, and a medium-high and higher education level. They have visited the destination 1 or 2 times and organize their trip through travel agencies. 

They stay mainly in hotels and to a lesser extent in guesthouses. The vast majority travel as a couple and as a family and engage in activities such as visits to historical and cultural sites, guided excursions and shopping. They have made purchases in the destination mainly in hotels and craft fairs and when they make purchases they prefer to buy souvenirs, alcoholic beverages, cigars, handicrafts and clothing. 

For the study of the destination's offer in terms of shopping tourism, a benchmarking tool was used to identify the destination's main resources and attractions, as well as its opportunities and challenges for their introduction. 

Characterization of Havana's commercial panorama.

The destinations selected for benchmarking were the cities of Sao Paulo, Santiago de Chile, Panama City, Buenos Aires and Mexico City.

Benchmarking indicators 

Seventeen indicators were identified and grouped into four general categories: commercial sector, affordability, convenience, and infrastructure and leisure. 

In the case of Havana, the main strengths are in the categories of convenience and infrastructure and leisure, which group together indicators such as safety, attractions and restaurants, among others. However, there are significant gaps in the commercial sector and affordability categories. 

Projection of strategic lines for the introduction of the modality. 


Taking into account the above, the following strategic lines are proposed:

Proposal of shopping tourism products

The excursions propose shopping tours through Old Havana and Playa, municipalities of the capital, to pair rum and cigars, and acquire native products linking elements of Cuba's history and culture. They are the perfect and harmonious way to integrate the locality and the tourist activity as a way to encourage the development of the same and in turn diversify the offer in an original way, respecting and promoting the originality of the destination.

Both tours propose visits to sites of historical and cultural interest such as the Havana Club Rum Museum, the Craftsmanship Palace, the Clandestine Store, the Habana 1791 Perfume Store, the Partagás Tobacco Factory-Museum, the "Alas de Mariposa" Community Project, the Kcho Estudio Romerillo Art Gallery, and the "Fusterlandia" Community Project.

It is concluded that there is a close relationship between demand, supply and tourism modalities. In particular, that the coherence between supply and demand conditions the introduction of modalities; and that for the introduction of the shopping tourism modality in the Havana destination, there are great challenges, however, there are opportunities that must be taken advantage of through new products.

Author: Danay Milagros Bulnes Mann

Faculty of Tourism of the University of Havana

The authors are responsible for the choice and presentation of the facts contained in this document and for the opinions expressed therein, which are not necessarily those of Tourism and Society Think Tank and do not commit the Organization, and should not be attributed to TSTT or its members.

This site uses cookies from Google to deliver its services and to analyze traffic. Information about your use of this site is shared with Google. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies.