Travel writer Nicole Edenedo comments on a recent article published in Travel Weekly, that this year could see Cuba become the Number 1 tourist destination in the whole Caribbean thanks to a number of factors. Read on and find out how!
Cuba, keeping its tourists safe
After a global pandemic, with all the doubts and insecurities that it has brought over the last two years, tourists could be forgiven for researching factors and considering things that in summer 2019 would have seemed plucked straight from a science-fiction film.
What are the virology standards like? Does my accommodation implement deep-clean protocols? How seriously is social distancing monitored? What health certificates will I need to get across the border? Are the local people vaccinated against the virus? It sounds like a film script from Ridley Scott or Robert Zemeckis.
However, now, in 2022, these are things that everyone will consider before boarding an aeroplane and landing in a foreign country. And you know what? Cuba's rolled with the times.
Optimism and confidence in the vaccine
Cuba is the second-most vaccinated country in the world only behind the United Arab Emirates, with 92% of people having received at least one dose of the country's five vaccines.
Five vaccines? In a country of only 11 million? You heard right. Cuban scientists have created no fewer than five vaccines, two of which, Abdala and Soberana, have been sold abroad to several countries all around the world.
That's exactly why optimism for the Cuban travel sector remains strong among industry experts. Travel companies offering holidays to Cuba are seeing renewed interest, and bookings to visit the "Pearl of the Caribbean" are on the rise again following Cuba's reopening of its borders on 15th November.
"We've already had some clients go there and we're surprised by the number of bookings coming in so shortly after the country's reopening. We had many more coming over New Year's, and things are starting to happen. Once we begin our marketing programmes in earnest, I have no doubt bookings for Cuba will begin to build as they always have in past years." - David Lee, owner and founder of Cultural Cuba
Cuban resorts genuinely care about your well-being
Although David Lee was initially surprised by the number of bookings Cuba was seeing, it really shouldn't come as too much of a shock. Two years of a pandemic doesn't detract from how beautiful and unique the island really is.
The weather is still warm, the scenery magnificent, the wildlife colourful, the beaches sandy, and the seas turquoise. What's more, the Cuban folk haven't lost their passion for music, dance, fine food, and old 1950s American automobiles!
A trip here is still an unforgettable experience and COVID-19 hasn't yet shorn the holidaymakers of their expectations of paradise when they arrive here.
However, it's the extra factors relating to how seriously the resorts are taking the tourists' well-being which has upped the bookings further. Yes, tourism is a massive part of the island's economy and it's in the resorts' interest to reassure their guests. But Cuba seems to have gone the extra mile, targeting vaccinating everyone who works in the tourism industry as a priority, and implementing stringent safety protocols across the board, which still don't detract from the joy of the holiday.
For instance, operators not only point to the high vaccination rates and stringent mask mandates as reasons why interest in Cuba is up, but also how the island recently tightened entry requirements at the border.
Now, visitors aged 13 and upwards must show proof of vaccination and also produce a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of arrival. Children 12 and under are exempt.
Tour operators and travel companies are working in harmony with Cuba too, in order to protect travellers.
"Friendly Planet and InsightCuba only accept fully vaccinated and boosted guests, while Cultural Cuba includes medical insurance with every traveller's airfare. That insurance provides full coverage should travellers test positive for COVID and includes full room, board and medical care in a special clinic for foreigners." - Travel Weekly
Keeping Cuba accessible
Cuba has long had a reputation as a chic, hip, staggeringly beautiful tourist destination. Nowadays, however, because of COVID, it is earning the reputation of a forward-thinking, modern nation that is invested in the safety and welfare of everyone on the island, local or tourists.
Everyone knows that there is history and culture in abundance on these shores. There's fascinating old colonial architecture, wonderful music, colours everywhere, geography that will take your breath away, tastes you've never tried, and sights you could never imagine. The people are friendly and open, and approach life with a refreshing mentality.
All this could have been lost for longer had Cuba not tackled the Coronavirus pandemic head-on. The borders could have been closed a lot longer than they were, and COVID-related deaths could have been much higher.
However, the Cuban government can be proud of its achievements, keeping this unique island accessible for everyone who wants to come and sample the many delights it has to offer.