Before the 1959 Revolution, Cuba was a popular tourist destination for United States citizens, mainly due to the large number of casinos catering to gamblers put up by the American mafia with the cooperation of the corrupt Batista government, a government that neglected many of its own citizens health and welfare in order to get US dollars. Many Americans had beach homes during the summer and rich American companies owned large factories and land with the cooperation of Fulgenicio Batista, the ruling military dictator. Since the Revolution, Cuba has been subjected to a trade and travel embargo by the United States. While travel between the two neighbors is restricted, it is still possible, though illegal for US citizens. In fact, US citizens of Cuban heritage are allowed to visit Cuba for a period of time, but only once every three years. This limitation is in the process of being relaxed in early spring 2009.
After 1959, Cuban tourism was mostly for Cubans only, and the facilities were not renewed until the 1990s, when Cuba lost financial backing from the defunct Soviet Union and opened its doors to foreign tourism. Now many European, Canadian, and even American visitors come to the island. In the typical tourist regions like Varadero and Holguin a lot of modern 3-star to 5-star hotels are available, while in less popular tourist regions visitors are still able to rent rooms in many Cuban homes (called casas particulares).
Due to several long-standing factors (e.g. bureaucratic ineffectiveness, the U.S. embargo, lack of resources, and the loss of Soviet subsidies) much of the country’s infrastructure is in need of repair. In major tourist destinations there will generally be few problems with either power or water, although such outages may occur. Electricity outages have been common in Cuba, except in tourist facilities that have a generator. 2006 was designated the Year of the Energy Revolution in Cuba, and many small generators have been installed in an attempt to avoid blackouts. Since Venezuela began providing Cuba with cheap oil and the refinery in Cienfuegos relaunched, the energy situation has improved. Many tourist accommodations offer 220V as well as 110V power sources.