Cuba, land of Cigars, Rum, old-timer vehicles and breathtakingly beautiful beaches. Country also known for great vacationing spots for many tourists from all over the world including Canadians.
An enchanting island nation in the Caribbean, has long captivated travellers with its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history. As a vacation spot, Cuba offers an unparalleled experience, blending picturesque beaches, colorful colonial architecture, rhythmic music, and warm hospitality.
One of Cuba’s most significant attractions is its unique and diverse culture. The island’s history is a tapestry woven with Spanish, African, and indigenous influences, giving rise to a captivating fusion of traditions, music, and cuisine. Stroll through the cobbled streets of Old Havana, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and immerse yourself in the well-preserved colonial architecture and vibrant street life. Don’t miss the opportunity to watch locals dance to the infectious rhythms of salsa and experience the soulful sounds of traditional Cuban music in the local bars and cafes.
Cuba boasts some of the most pristine beaches in the Caribbean, making it an idyllic destination for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts. Varadero, with its long stretches of powdery white sand and turquoise waters, is a popular resort town that offers a range of beachfront accommodations and water activities, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and catamaran cruises. For a more tranquil experience, there are unspoiled beaches of Cayo Coco or Cayo Santa Maria, where you can bask in the sun and unwind in a serene tropical setting.
Yet, did Cuba lost it’s charm for many Canadians?
Canadians who have traveled recently to Cuba have noticed some changes that could potentially demoralize tourists and here is why.
COVID-19 has ruined many things for many people around the world, Canada as considered one of the richest countries in the world had seen enormous fall backs, high inflation and political polarity. European Union is not doing any better while USA is struggling with immigration. If you think this is bad, wait until you find out how Cuba is doing.
Cuban Government decided to replace success story currency: Cuban Convertible Pesos and introduce Cuban Pesos instead. Many would say, this is a good idea, perhaps for the long run, but, for post COVID Cuba, this change comes with big inflation and big grief for Cubans. Inflation in Cuba, believe it or not is at 70% at the moment.
While most of Cubans work for the Government, these days no Cuban has desire to do so any more. If we exchange Cuban Pesos for US Dollar for instance, most Cubans would earn about $20-$40 per month! For the trouble to be even worse, food prices went up in price even more, making it unaffordable for the most. Many Cubans if they are lucky, rely on family and friends who live in diaspora like in the US for money injection for buying basic necessities.
Bad inflation has moved into other Cuban sectors, including food and machinery imports. As Cuba is about 30% self sufficient, 70% of all goods must be imported at inflated price. Taking in account the US and EU embargo on Cuba, the situation for this island country is very troublesome.
This grim situation can be felt to an extent in many all inclusive resorts. While food situation in Cuba is not pretty, resorts do all they can to supply all the necessities travellers to Cuba need and want. It is sad to say that paradise destination is in trouble.
Food like chicken, fish, many fruits, milk, cheese and many drinks like wine and juices have to be imported by the government at an unsustainable price and often from not direct sources because Cuba is under unfair embargo. Doing business under embargo with 70% inflation rate is a bad situation at best. Resorts will get all the food and drinks imported by the government, there is no room for hotels to shop around locally, no room for manoeuvre.
Not knowing this bad situation Cuban economy is in, many Canadian and international vacationers get discouraged by some insufficiencies while traveling to Cuba. Again, I have to say, this is because of the unfair embargo and high inflation, a real nightmare for Cuba and Cuban citizens.
All this grief Cubans have to go through on daily basis, not knowing if they are going to be able to put food on the table for their families, still, they have kept the famous Cuban friendliness and Cuban charm. From airport employees, tour guides, hotel personnel and local stores, Cubans will greet and treat you with a smile and respect.
Cubans are renowned for their warm and welcoming nature. Interacting with the locals will undoubtedly enrich your travel experience, offering insight into their daily lives, customs, and traditions. Engage in conversations with friendly Cubans, and you’ll discover a vibrant and passionate community that takes pride in its cultural heritage.
Future of Cuban economy and Tourism
The Cuban economy has been characterized by a combination of socialist principles and market-oriented reforms. The Cuban government has historically maintained a centrally planned economy, with state ownership of major industries and a focus on social welfare programs. However, in recent years, there have been some economic reforms aimed at encouraging private entrepreneurship and foreign investment.
Tourism has been a crucial sector of the Cuban economy for several decades. The island’s natural beauty, rich cultural heritage, and warm climate attract millions of tourists each year. The tourism industry has been one of the main sources of foreign exchange earnings for Cuba, helping to offset some of the economic challenges the country faces due to its isolation from the United States and other international markets.
Tourism’s contribution to the Cuban economy can fluctuate depending on various factors such as global economic conditions, geopolitical issues, and changes in travel policies. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, tourism accounted for a significant percentage of Cuba’s GDP. The exact percentage of Cuba’s economy that depends on tourism might have varied over time, but estimates suggested that tourism contributed around 10% to 15% of the country’s GDP. However, it is important to note that the pandemic severely impacted international travel, leading to a significant decrease in tourism revenue for Cuba and many other countries worldwide.
Tourism plays a crucial role in the Cuban economy, providing foreign exchange earnings and supporting employment in various sectors. However, the Cuban government has been seeking to diversify the economy and reduce its reliance on tourism by encouraging other industries, foreign investment, and domestic economic reforms.
Cuba has still unbeatable prices for all inclusive vacations. Offering the blend between culture, friendliness and amazing beaches. Hotels are provided with all the food and drinks travellers would need and other accommodations like quality of rooms and services is like in every Caribbean destination. No need to worry about shortages in resorts as they are none. Many Canadians have fallen in love with Cuba as they visit this vacation destination on annual basis.
So, if you think about going on a vacation in the near future, research Cuba and Cuban resorts, you will find a piece of paradise.