07 Mar 2010 05:03:48 GMT
HAVANA, March 6 (Reuters) - Cash-strapped Cuba will require visitors to buy health insurance if they want to enter the country, according to a new government measure disclosed on Saturday.
Under the measure, which takes effect in May, the insurance will be sold by foreign companies approved by the Cuban government or by Cuban firms at ports of entry to the communist-led island, the government said in the online edition of Cuba's Official Gazette.
The measure decrees that tourists, foreigners with temporary residence in Cuba and Cubans living abroad who return to visit will have to be insured.
It exempts diplomats and representatives of accredited international organizations. The cost of the insurance was not disclosed.
Cuba prides itself on having a strong healthcare system, which is provided free to its citizens and at low costs to foreigners.
But the island has been hit hard by the global recession and is looking for new sources of revenue to boost its depleted financial reserves.
Tourism is one of Cuba's main sources of income. In 2009, 2.42 million people visited the island.
(Reporting by Rosa Tania Valdes; Editing by Jeff Franks and Peter Cooney)