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Escape Hunter Stream Cuba: Why You Should Hurry to Visit

Cuba: Why You Should Hurry to Visit

March 26, 2017

Cuba is opening up to the world!
Have you been? If not, you'd better do it fast, because you might get slapped by disappointment if you do it too late!

And, while "opening up" might sound like a positive thing, it should worry you if you'd like to enjoy Cuba's vintage feel (it is probably the only country in the world that has preserved a unique old look due to its political and commercial isolation).

It won't take very long until "trips back in the past" won't be possible anymore! Cuba has already lost a lot due to imports, globalization and mass tourism hitting it.

Old buildings in Havana

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: Adufilms [CC0 Public Domain]

Since 2014, a process of "normalization" if the US-Cuban relations has begun. After roughly half a century, the political and commercial relationship between the two countries is loosening up.

As a result, the tourism industry got a boost (with more US and Canadian travelers arriving to the country), which contributes substantially to the country's "rusty economy". Along with tourism, trade also gets revitalized.

Due to the publicity generated, Cuba is now among the most desired travel destinations in Latin America. The number of tourists arriving into the country is climbing abruptly - estimates put the number of visitors to Cuba at above 3 million.

Vintage car in Havana

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: tpsdave [CC0 Public Domain]

Cuba's opening up means: direct flights from the US, as well as cruise ships now allowed to bring in tourists (previously Cuba prohibited that), massive imports of modern cars (which will eventually replace the beloved old "yank tanks"), the spread of mobile phones and the internet, the restoration of old buildings (and entire districts)...

Master Card began processing operations in Cuba in 2014, public (paid) WiFi hotspots are appearing in big cities (yet, still expensive for locals at 2 $ per hour), more and more modern cars and tourists buses can be seen on the streets.

In the past, visitors had to pay an "exit tax" of 25 USD, which is now included in airline tickets.

Another thing facilitating travel to Cuba is the fact that Airbnb now allows accommodation reservation for Cuba! In the past you had a handful of options for Cuba accommodation booking... let alone: doing it online it was almost impossible.

Cuban yank tanks

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: xoracio [CC0 Public Domain]

It's just a matter of time until almost every equipment used turns into modern. Cuba will gradually turn new, modern. An erosion of its vintage beauty can already be observed...

Cuba's "yank tanks" (the vintage American cars from the 1940's and 1950's) are slowly being phased out, replaced by newer cars. It's understandable why locals want to swap the "old wrecks" for fancy modern vehicles, but this will drastically alter the atmosphere.

The vintage cars are already being collected by taxi and tour companies, they are no longer as appealing to locals. Although, they were still dominating the streets 10 years ago, they are losing ground quite fast...

Vast areas of Havana are being restored, with old buildings ending up with "fine façades" and losing what I call "the beauty of decay".

Evening taxi in Havana

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: flunkey0 [CC0 Public Domain]

I've found an interesting article on Skift.com about the superficiality of the "tourism boom". According to it, Cuba's growing tourism doesn't go much further past Havana.

The article claims a 77 % increase of US tourists had occurred in 2015. Yet, most foreigners arriving to the island country don't travel further than Havana. And rarely visit places beyond the big cities with airports in the proximity.

To see the positive side of it: globalization and "wild capitalism" is "devouring" Havana first and will then spread to the other cities and towns...

Capitalism will gradually consume the beautiful vintage feel of Cuba in return for the economic benefits and hopefully better life standards for the locals. They will change their clothing, city districts will modernize and the "yank tanks" will become relics of the past (most probably only taxi companies and tour companies will use them).

I personally fear for the "yank tanks" - remember what Malta did to the "xarabanks"?
Here's my story of Malta's old buses (sad, but most of them were scrapped!).

Old street in Havana

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: tpsdave [CC0 Public Domain]

There's a rather ironical-critical article on Bustle.com entitled "Dear Americans: Please Stop Making Tourism In Cuba About You" - you can get the picture of what it's about...

MarketWatch (yes, MarketWatch!) also digs into this issue with their article called: "How to travel to Cuba before it gets mobbed by Americans" - access the article here.

National Geographic also picked up the subject in their article called "How Tourism Will Change Cuba" - find the writing here. They emphasize more about Havana's rise as a new culinary destination, they mention Airbnb gaining ground, the modernization of the infrastructure and more...

I'm trying to see the bright side of the phenomenon: it's easier to travel to Cuba, it's easier to book hotels and in (very rare cases) you can even use bank cards.

There will be a short-lived first phase when it will be great going there (if it's not already over), so hurry up, seize the opportunity and live the moment!

Cuban guitarist

Source: © Pixabay.com - Author/User: GregMontani [CC0 Public Domain]

Escape Hunter

About the Author:

Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...


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