Coronavirus lockdowns worldwide are proving to be a boon for the Dominican Republic’s cigar industry, reports Bloomberg.
Already the world’s largest cigar producer, the Caribbean nation is on track to export a record $1 billion worth of tobacco products this year, up 6 percent over the $942 million it sold abroad in 2019, according to government figures.
The cigar industry has emerged as a bright spot for the region’s largest economy, which is expected to shrink 5.5 percent this year, as its critical tourism and services sectors are impacted by coronavirus-related restrictions.
The Dominican Republic is thought to be one of the birthplaces of the cigar; islanders were rolling and smoking tobacco centuries before Columbus set foot on the island. When Cuba nationalized its cigar industry during the 1959 revolution, many of the top growers moved to the neighboring island, propelling the Dominican industry.
Hendrik Kelner, president of the Association of Dominican Cigar Manufacturers isn’t surprised by the resilience of the “puros.” With cigar afficionados around the world unable to frequent bars and restaurants, they’re spending more money and time on their smoking habit,” he said.
“A cigar,” said Hendrik, “is like a loyal friend who accompanies you when times are tough and you’re lonely.”