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Cuba and business travel: No business here

GULLIVER has been wanting to write about the biggest story in American travel—the thaw in US-Cuban relations—for weeks now. Even if you don’t plan on travelling to Cuba, you might have noticed some changes already—updated airline route maps that include Havana, for instance. But this is a business travel blog, and it’s been hard to figure out how the policy changes will affect business travellers. Thankfully, Joe Sharkey, the dean of business travel writers, is on the case.The news is what you might expect if you know a little bit about Cuba:[W]ith a few exceptions represented by cultural activities … the business-travel market to the island remains limited “simply because there is very little business in Cuba,” said Michael Boyd, the president of Boyd Group International, an airline consulting firm.Mr. Boyd is not impressed by the short-term potential for expanded travel to Cuba. “For one thing, there aren’t enough hotels, and the quality is questionable,” he said. Rigid Cuban government policies on private businesses deter the confidence necessary for major hotel-industry investment from abroad, he added.You still can’t, of course, fly direct between America and Cuba on a commercial airliner. But as Mr Sharkey makes clear, the real issue for business travellers is whether you’d want to. Cuba’s economy is still so state-controlled that there’s just not that much …