Cuba is fast becoming one of the most desired travel spots in the world and is shooting to the top of many travellers’ holiday wish lists. Amidst the rumours that Cuba will soon lift the ban on travel for Americans, our resident Cuba Travel Specialist Zoe lifts the lid on why she recommends booking your trip soon, to ensure you get a chance to experience the famous authentic Cuban charm.
A bit of history
Back in the 40’s, Cuba was America’s tropical playground; the place to go to indulge in all the things that were frowned upon back home. Located just 90 miles from Florida, Cuba was in easy reach for Americans.
Whilst tourists were partying it up in Havana, around 800km away in the East of the Island, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were hiding up in the Sierra Maestra mountains, drafting revolutionary laws and orchestrating the military strikes which brought about the demise of the Batista government.
What’s an embargo?
The result of the revolution caused an abrupt halt to the partying days of the rich and famous American tourists. After the nationalisation of all American companies in Cuba, an embargo (or blockade as the Cubans call it) was then placed on the country. This restricted trade, caused a strain on the economy and decimated a large proportion of incoming tourism.
A change on the horizon?
For the last 50 years or so, the world (except America) has still been able to enjoy criss-crossing around the country; exploring colonial towns, learning how to roll cigars in Viñales and salsa dancing in the music halls of Santiago. However, if the rumours are true it’s not going to be long until American tourists can once again soak up the tropical sun on the lovely Playas and Cayos along Cuba’s Caribbean coastline.
A desirable destination
Cuba is the forbidden fruit for many American tourists and in December 2014 CNN news reported that the first steps towards diplomatic ties between the two countries were made. The report highlighted a quote directly from President Obama who commented; “Today, America chooses to cut loose the shackles of the past, so as to reach for a better future for the Cuban people, for the American people, for our entire hemisphere and for the world.”
Katy Watson, a spokeswoman for the BBC reported on Monday 20th July that “there will be no immediate changes as the ban for American tourists is still in place, primarily due to the issues that both governments don’t yet see eye to eye on… the hugely damaging Embargo cannot be lifted until there is a vote in congress to lift it.” Although there is currently no date set for this, the Cuban flag now flies high in front of the new Cuban embassy in Washington, which highlights we probably don’t have long to wait now.
Make the most of Cuba’s authentic culture
Cuba, as it’s been known and loved for the last 5 decades, will likely undergo some huge changes when the embargo is lifted, as many American investors see Cuba as a huge opportunity. Although this will be beneficial for the economy, there are concerns surrounding what effect this will have on the culture, heritage and authenticity of the country. Cuba is massively underdeveloped and is a communist country; factors which only add to the reasons why people travel from all over the world to experience the vibrant culture that emanates down those quirky cobbled streets!
A new Cuba?
Those beautiful crumbling buildings in Havana that are oh so picturesque will likely be overshadowed by chain hotels, as the country swiftly becomes modernised to suit the demands and wants of its tourists. With new cars being shipped into the country, it might not be a classic 1950’s car picking you up from the airport anymore as you begin your adventure mis amigos.
It’s time to go!
We of course sit here in hope that any future developments will instead improve the country’s economy and make positive advances in sustainability and responsible travel. However with so much uncertainty surrounding what the changes will mean for the country and Cuban people, we recommend planning your trip sooner rather than later to avoid missing out on experiencing the raw beauty and charm of an unchanged Cuba.