Photo Credit: Mario Luis Reyes
Nostalgicar is grown out of the passion for vintage cars. The family-owned business offers visitors to Cuba various services, including transport services, excursions, and city tours, using classic luxury cars.
Nidialys Acosta and Julio Álvarez, Co-Founders of Nostalgicar, spoke at the luncheon hosted by Global Innovation Forum in 2017.
The number of international tourist arrivals to Cuba has been growing increasingly since 2014, reaching 4 million in 2016 and 4.7 million in 2017. The number of U.S. residents going to Cuba has also increased since President Obama announced re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and also loosen the restrictions on travel. The loosened policy brings more business to private sectors in Cuba as well. To attract more visitors to use the service and/or visit the garage, Nostalgicar uses Facebook to reach international visitors. “More than 55% of our clients are from the US – an increase since 2014 – and 100% of those who visit our garage are American,” Nidialys Acosta told.
While tourism has grown in Cuba, the private sector in Cuba is being impacted by uncertainty around future U.S. policy towards Cuba. In June 2017, President Trump announced tight new restrictions on U.S. travel and trade with Cuba, rolling back some of the Obama-era normalization policy with Cuba. Since then “We have already received 3 group cancellations after the speech made by Trump in Florida,” Acosta shared.
In addition to policy uncertainty, entrepreneurs in Cuba face challenges around access global payments and financial service systems. Julio Álvarez explained that even after the loosening of restrictions, he was unable to open a bank account in the US. In the current climate of unpredictability, he foresees that conducting simple business transactions with the US will become even more difficult.