In an article published by the BBC on 11th December, it was reported that the Cuban government recently announced plans to scrap the use of the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) from 1st January 2021 in a nationwide monetary reform.
In a television programme broadcast across the whole Caribbean island, President Miguel Diaz-Canel stated that the Communist Party had decided to begin the unification of this new monetary process as a way of taking a decisive step in regulating the country's economy.
Bye-bye CUC, important changes to Cuba monetary system
What was the difference between the CUP and the CUC?
Cuban Peso (CUP)
The Cuban Peso, or CUP, is currently one of two official currencies in use in Cuba, the other being the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).
Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)
Most Cuban state workers receive their wages in national pesos (CUP) or "moneda nacional", but some receive a portion of their salary in convertible pesos (CUC). To add to the relative confusion, until 2014, some shops sold only in CUP and others only in CUC.
Tourists on the island are most likely to use CUC as its value has always been paired to the US Dollar (USD), but fortunately, Cubans will accept either form of the currencies. As the CUC was much more valuable (in average 24 times more), it was sometimes a minor issue that vendors or taxi drivers would give tourists their change back in CUP, after having been paid in CUC. The monetary reform would eradicate this, and many other problems.
Cash is used almost all of the time for all transactions in Cuba, another thing which tourists should be aware of. Everyone carries the local Cuban currency on them whether it's CUC or CUP.
As the internet is cumbersome, expensive, and not readily available, it's not easy to use credit or debit cards. The same issue applies to cashpoints. They are relatively far and few between, and you may find you're charged for withdrawals.
What does this mean for travellers to Cuba from the UK?
In truth, it doesn't mean too much. British holidaymakers should continue to act as previously, bringing cash and bank cards. These should not be issued by American banks, but the majority of cards in circulation in the UK are not anyway.
So if you're considering heading to what's fast becoming the Caribbean's "Number One" hot spot, it's likely you'll not be affected too much. It will serve as a welcome relief for holidaymakers to not undergo the mental arithmetic of conversion rates between GBP, USD or EUR into CUC and then into CUP.
However, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel confirmed that the last analyses will be made in order to complete this monetary and exchange rate unification at a meeting of the Council of Ministers.
Many Cubans think that the implementation of this measure is indeed close, but there's a thought that the general population will demand more details about its enforcement before it goes ahead.