The evolving political situation in Cuba means that the Caribbean island could be on the brink of momentous change that would make it a completely different place to visit. Here’s why you should visit as soon as you can.
For many people, one of the main attractions of the island is that it has remained untouched by large-scale tourism. This may all change, depending on US President Donald Trump’s policy towards the island. For years, US visitor numbers have been severely restricted by a trade embargo, but if the relaxation of restrictions that started under President Obama continues under President Trump, there could be an explosion in the number of visitors.
Growing numbers of divers could threaten the spectacular coral reefs that are currently a major attraction for divers and snorkelers. If you get to Cuba soon you’ll be able to see them in their currently unspoilt state.
One charming feature of a trip to Cuba is the opportunity to stay in casas particulares, which are local houses with rooms to rent. If development does occur to the extent that some commentators are predicting, these lodgings may be driven out of business by chain hotels. If you go now, you’ll be able to stay with Cubans in their homes and get to know the culture.
While Cuba has never been known as a particular cheap destination for travellers, things remain reasonably affordable for the moment. Depending on economic and political reforms, there could be a spike in prices as demand for limited resources increases as more tourists visit the island. Visit now to beat the rush and the price increases.
Cuba is famous for the old classic cars that putter along its streets, but modern cars have been slowly encroaching. If you want to take a ride in an old classic, you’d be wise to get there sooner rather than later.
The trade embargo meant that getting hold of new equipment or machinery has long been a problem in Cuba. As a result, the population has become adept at repairing and reusing their old stuff in any way they can. It’s a necessity for the locals, and it makes Cuba even more fascinating for visitors.
While political scientists will argue over whether Cuba is a truly socialist country, for most visitors it provides a great opportunity to see a socialist nation with their own eyes. There aren’t many of them left, and if Cuba continues to implement reforms, it, too, could become a free market country before long.
Another surprising feature of Cuba is the lack of traffic on the roads. The number of vehicles has barely changed since an ban on imports was introduced in 1959, but lately the rules have been relaxed. If car rental companies are allowed to operate on the island and wealthy Cubans start importing new cars, traffic could increase exponentially.
Cuba is currently completely free from advertising, which means no billboards, posters or TV ads. You may see the occasional piece of political propaganda, but the level of visual contamination is nowhere near that of Europe or the USA. Get there before the advertisers do and enjoy an unimpeded view of the country.
Cuba is one of the few countries in the world where internet access is severely limited. You can only get online in a number of wifi zones in public squares, and in some large hotels. It’s a great opportunity to disconnect from the internet, and you’ll have the perfect excuse for not replying to any emails: you can’t!
Even if Cuba weren’t a unique time capsule of a country, you’d have to argue that you should get there as soon as possible. After all, everywhere in our globalised world is becoming slowly and inexorably more similar, so visiting those places that retain some individual character is a must for the curious traveller. On the other hand, you could always wait until McDonald’s and Starbucks make their way to the island. At least you’d then be able to get a hamburger and a coffee just like the ones you have at home.