A new policy announced last week in Cuba has rendered visitors and residents departing from the island unable to change their local bills back into US dollars, Euros, or other hard currencies at the official exchange rate.
The state’s Cadeca exchange company said the measure was taken due to the drastic drop in tourism during the pandemic, which resulted in the lack of hard currency.
The island’s government closed the airports’ departure lounge exchange booths that had previously allowed travelers to change up to $300 at the official rate of 24 Cuban pesos to the US dollar. Since this is about double the black-market rate inside the country, it gives outbound travelers little options outside of spending all their pesos before leaving the country.
“We have to recognise that issue that is present in the economy,” Economy Minister Alejandro Gil said last Thursday, though he assured that the official exchange rate would remain at 24-to-1.
The scramble for hard currency accelerated due to a reform that eliminated a “convertible peso” whose value had been tied to the dollar and which some Cubans could access, as well as the opening of new shops that sell only in dollars — or with credit cards backed by hard currency.