Holy Smokes! Americans travel to Cuba for Havana Cigar Festival

Posted: 07-Mar-16 14:22

While the United States is the world's largest cigar market, the trade embargo has prevented Americans from experiencing the joy of authentic Cuban cigars. However, with travel restrictions now being relaxed, many US citizens recently visited Cuba to experience the country's most famous product first-hand at the Havana Cigar Festival.

Holy Smokes! Americans travel to Cuba for Havana Cigar Festival

Cuba has long since been famous for its hand-rolled cigars, but due to restrictions on trade between the island and America, for decades they were something that US citizens could only dream about.

However, for the first time ever this year, the relaxation of the travel restrictions between America and Cuba under the Barack Obama administration has allowed tourists from the US to travel to the island for the Havana Cigar Festival – one of the country's most famous annually-held events.

"It's wonderful, we're here at this world event at a rare moment and it feels so good for us as Americans to be here."

Charles Berry, a US tourist visiting the festival, told CCTV America's Michael Voss during the station's coverage of the event. Mr Berry continued:

"The Cuban people are wonderful; they're open to us and they're quite interested in us – which we like very much!"

Welcome to flavour country

A mix of lavish evening receptions and trips to factories and tobacco plantations, the Havana Cigar Festival offers smoking aficionados the chance to see where some of the world's finest tobacco leaves are grown, while a selection of cigar master classes also help visitors understand and appreciate which cigars go best with different types of rum and other spirits.

Alfred Angelic, who owns a business selling humidors and cigars in the state of Michigan, also attended the event and told reporters he was looking forward to the day that the trade embargo with Cuba is finally lifted. Mr Angelic explained:

"I can't wait until we can sell them in the United States. It's going to be big, wonderful. All the cigar smokers are very excited."

Currently American visitors to Cuba are limited to taking back just $100 worth of cigars, but once these restrictions are removed, the country may struggle to meet the huge demand that is expected.

To put that demand into context, President John F Kennedy famously purchased over 1,000 Cuban cigars just hours before signing the trade embargo – and a bust of him smoking one at one of the festival's stands serves as a reminder of just how much the US people love this Cuban speciality.


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