The Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro’s communism and stifling economic policies and the ensuing Cold War with the United States made tourism in the country stood still for almost five decades despite the country’s numerous tourist attractions – stunning beaches, culture, casinos and late night dancing. While Castro successfully curbed racism and reduced illiteracy, the trade embargo enforced by the United States froze economic growth particularly in the area of tourism and travel. All these made a holiday in Cuba unusually more expensive for the budget-conscious globetrotters.
You can thank U.S. President Barack Obama for ending the Cold War and re-establishing diplomatic ties with Cuba. The historic move happened last December 10 (2014); “he ordered the restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba and the opening of an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century as he vowed to “cut loose the shackles of the past” and sweep aside one of the last vestiges of the Cold War” (The New York Times).
Now that Cuba’s diplomatic relations with the United States has been re-established, you might be considering making it your next destination. If you are wondering what’s in it for you, you must read Rowena Ryan and AP’s “America has re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba: Why you should go now” published in PerthNow – Lifestyle Section.
Cuba was a favourite among Americans for its white sandy beaches.
The result of the embargo means that Cuba has been frozen in time, a relic of another era…
Why you should go to Cuba now…
Katharine Bonner, (of) Connecticut-based tour operator Tauck… says Americans are really curious about this country that has been off limits for so long.
It is that isolation, in part, that is so appealing. There’s no McDonalds, no Starbucks. Bonner said once travel opens, there will be a rush to see Cuba before its gets “Americanised.”
“It’s almost like a country that has been frozen in time,” she told AP…
Ryan and AP let you in on some of the reasons why you should put Cuba high on your list of places to visit.
- Cuba is just an hour away from Miami, a close destination for Americans looking for an alternative tropical destination. It has been a haven for Canadians fleeing their cold weather; it will be again for Americans who love white-sand beaches and clear-blue skies.
- It’s ripe with authentic eating options ranging from state-owned restaurants to “paladar,” small, private homes that serve tourists with authentic Cuban cuisines. There’s no McDonald in sight. The “nearest” eating places you have to contend with while here are Pizza Nova and, if you want burgers, fries and fried chicken, there’s El Rapido.
- International hotels are a rarity in Cuba having a low number of international tourists. This would change with more American tourists and investors coming in. The standard and rate would change with competition and surging demand. It’s in the grapevine that Marriott International and Hilton Worldwide, two U.S. and the world’s largest hotel chains welcome the idea of making their presence felt in Cuba.
- Enjoy the local feel of shopping in Cuba. While there are malls in Havana, Casas comisionista or pawn shops are great places to hunt down vintage, antiques and other treasures. Soon, these shopping attractions too will perish. Big names in mass markets and department stores will be as eager to infiltrate Cuba just as the hotels.
- With low Internet connectivity in just about 27 percent of the country, those who long to be alone or to enjoy a quiet holiday will relish their days in Cuba. As hotels, shopping malls and other commercial amenities/structures are built in key Cuban cities, the Internet connectivity will inevitably follow. It will just be another tropical destination and won’t be as remote as you may want it to be.
- If you are a car enthusiast, the country has an impressive number of awesome, old American cars – Buick, Chevy and Cadillac collections – still running up and down the roads. As trade restrictions are lifted, new cars will start coming in replacing the “relic” setting that’s Cuba.
Once your mind is made up or you start planning a trip to this country, it will be good to get a good picture of what to expect in the place. You can gather a few great ideas from Kristen Bellstrom’s “Thinking About a Trip to Cuba? 5 Things You Should Know” published in Money – Travel Section
Here’s what you should know.
- Don’t expect anything to change overnight. Despite the change in the diplomatic relations between these two countries, don’t think that everything will roll out fast to effect “touristy changes” that will make your holiday as typical as the other topical destinations. Have patience; meanwhile enjoy the unique appeals that Cuba has to offer.
- Some prices may fall. Among other reasons, the higher cost of holidaying in Cuba has deterred many globetrotters in the past. Easing the rules is expected to positively impact the cost of travel in the country to attract a broad range of travelers. Tourists will surge; compounded with a drop in the current rates, the pristine landscape is a great magnet.
- …but demand is likely to pick up quickly. Despite the lack of diplomatic relations with the United States before, about 170,000 American still visited Cuba from January to September of 2014 being the second most popular Caribbean destination. Expect more to come with the new approach of Pres. Obama.
- The infrastructure isn’t there yet. If you decide to come, set your expectations to enjoy the raw attractions of the country than the modernized or Americanized amenities typical in popular travel destinations. Canadians love this destination for its sun-and-sand appeal. Flights may still be irregular and you may need to book early because there are no enough hotel rooms for the expected surging number of tourists.
- New options are coming. The current tour and travel operators may still dominate the scene, but soon this will change with more players coming in.
Appreciate the rawness of tourism of Cuba and embrace its unique appeals. You may not have that for long. Soon, everything will be changed, something that you may not like at all.
If you want come now, it best to enjoy this country now while all the vestiges of everything Cuban are still tangible and visible. Soon Cuba will be as “Americanized” as the any destination, which you may not really like as the authenticity is lost.