Sun, sea, rum, but no Americans: What to expect on a Cuban beach this winter

Posted: 01-Dec-16 12:43

Despite easing the terms of the travel and trade embargo under outgoing president Barack Obama, U.S. citizens technically remain unable to go near idyllic coastal spots on the Caribbean island. Of course, most will flout the rule, but it’s interesting to take a look at what visitors to Cuba from various parts of the world do while on the island.

Sun, sea, rum, but no Americans: What to expect on a Cuban beach this winter

With the relaxing of legislation that prevented US citizens from visiting Cuba for over half a century has come much speculation. What will this culturally isolated island begin to look like now the door has been (re)opened by the country’s sworn ideological nemesis, and its capitalist ways?

The jury remains well and truly out for the moment; time will clearly be the telling force at play here, especially following incoming president Donald Trump’s recent tweets. But, according to one article recently published on Canadian news radio website CBC, some impact can already be seen, not least in and around the iconic capital city, Havana, where hotel and B&B prices are soaring due to increased overall demand.

Currently Washington has approved travel to Cuba in 12 specific criteria. These include cultural learning, family visitations, religious, journalistic and "people-to-people" reasons. Notably, sunbathing is not specified, and Americans are not technically allowed to venture near beaches for the usual purposes of lounging around, making sandy stretches on the island US-free zones unless individuals choose to flout the agreement, which many most likely do.

In contrast, their European and Canadian counterparts are free to don swimwear and spend the entire day relaxing while soaking up the rays. However, according to celebrated jazz musician Jane Bunnett, a veteran of travel to Cuba who has been making the trip from her Canada homeland since 1982, there are big differences between what North American and European visitors enjoy doing once their flights land.

She told the website:

“Canadians are basically laying on a beach, drinking a cocktail and that’s about all they do. That’s a generalization, of course, but a lot more of the Europeans go for cultural reasons. I’ve witnessed that first hand in my travels. They want to know about the Afro-Cuban religion, they’re very interested in dance, the Cuban song.”

Canadians already account for the biggest international demographic of tourists on an annual basis, sending more visitors than the US and Europe combined, with more than 1 million arriving each year. This would likely change if the American embargo were fully lifted, rather than eased, although there are no plans in place for this to happen at the moment, with some believing strict restrictions may well be brought back in once the new President-elect, Donald Trump, is sworn into the White House.

The billionaire businessman and leader of the Free World has said in the past that he intended to reverse the new policy put in place by the Obama administration "until the Castro regime meets our demands". And in the wake of Fidel Castro’s death this week it’s unclear whether that opinion has changed or not.


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