Cuban cigar factories open for escorted tours

Posted: 26-Aug-16 09:50

With many hands making light work of producing the world's most celebrated, and controversial tobacco product, visitors to the Caribbean island shouldn't miss a chance to see production in action. But, as blogger Julian Hatfield found out, there's no chance of taking any pictures at the government-owned cigar factory Santa Clara.

Cuban cigar factories open for escorted tours

Cuba’s cigars are undisputed global icons, conjuring images of crafted wooden boxes in the offices of wealthy American businessmen with illicit connections, not to mention Che Guevara and Fidel Castro posing for propagandist photographs while clutching the hand-rolled products between clenched teeth.

The cigars are so indicative of the island’s culture that they were banned in the U.S. following the Communist Revolution in the 1960s. Along with high quality rum, the sticks of luxury tobacco represent one of the country’s most prized exports, despite the restrictions that have limited legal sales in some parts of the world.

In 2014, President Obama announced that relations with Cuba would be "normalised", re-opening diplomatic lines of communication in July 2015, with a new policy introduced allowing the transportation of up to $100 US dollars worth of alcohol and tobacco from Cuba to the U.S. None of which has done much to change the perceived value and exclusivity of the cigars. Among smokers they continue to be highly coveted in the same way as French champagne is in the realm of wine buffs.

Which isn’t surprising. According to a blog on Don’t Forget To Move by Latin American expert Julian Hatfield, the experience of watching the products being made is enough to confirm their quality, believed to be the finest on the planet. Although he does not smoke, the writer admits to being tempted by the highly sought after Romeo y Julieta variety, often considered the smoothest cigars on the market.

Hatfield’s observations from his visit to a government-owned cigar factory in Santa Clara, the final resting place of Che Guevara, are enough to make anyone want to follow in his footsteps. From rows of workers busily crafting the coveted items by hand – with each individual cigar traceable back to the person who made it– to the omnipresent political posters and loudspeaker announcements delivering pro-state messages. His portrait offers a surprisingly poignant description of the industry, one that is at once political and cultural.

Perhaps most interesting is the ban on "informal media access", which, put simply, means that all cameras must be handed in at the entrance before any tour begins. If nothing else, this ensures the privacy of the workers, but also means there’s an air of mystery for visitors, as it’s impossible to know exactly what the tour will reveal, unless you’re on the tour and experiencing it all first hand. Which, in part at least, explains the lure of this particular tourist attraction.


Popular Holidays in cuba

OUR EXCLUSIVE DEALS AND LATEST OFFERS

Best Value

From £599 per person
villa pinares de mayari

Villa Pinares De Mayari

4.0 stars

Beautifully perched on the panoramic Mensura Hill, surrounded by striking greenery, this blessed and secluded natural...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £629 per person
villa mirador de mayabe

Villa Mirador De Mayabe

2.0 stars

This enchanting villa hotel is surrounded by exuberant tropical plants and is perfectly located in a high point towering...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
sercotel club cayo guillermo

Sercotel Club Cayo Guillermo

3.0 stars

The perfect haven for lovers of nature in its purest state, the Villa Cojimar hotel sits in an idyllic location amidst...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
club amigo atlantico guardalavaca

Club Amigo Atlantico Guardalavaca

3.0 stars

Get away to one of Cuba's best kept secrets for a dream holiday at Club Amigo Atlantico. Guardalavaca is known to host...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £679 per person
tryp cayo coco

Tryp Cayo Coco

4.0 stars

The perfect beach holiday awaits you the all-inclusive Tryp Cayo Coco hotel, where non-stop entertainment and utmost...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation
From £699 per person
memories holguin

Memories Holguin

4.0 stars

Enjoy a perfect beach setting while you unwind in the historic sands of the all-inclusive Memories Holguin. A short...

Included
  • Flight
  • Accomodation
  • Transportation
  • Representation

More deals


Explore cuba your way

Tailor made cuba holidays

For those who prefer to travel at their own pace or to explore places not included in the brochure itineraries, we have years of experience at organising tailor-made holidays.

Create the perfect trip with the help of our specialists

Our expert tour consultants will be pleased to suggest ideas to complement your own and to organise the most appropiate programme to suit your interests, time and budget.

Call 0207 644 1600
to speak with our award-winning travel consultants.

If you would like a member of our team to contact you back, please click here Contact us