Photo Credit: Alessandro Caproni
Cuba is a favourite holiday spot for Canadians, especially during the harsh winter months. As it gets colder, Canadians flock to tropical destinations, particularly islands in the Caribbean. Cuba offers beautiful beaches and fun in the sun, typically at a cheaper price than other sun destinations. However, with travel restrictions easing for Americans, more and more people are booking holidays in Cuba. With the rise in demand for hotels and resort vacations in Cuba, the prices are only bound to go up. Will the increase of Americans traveling to Cuba mark the end of cheap travel to Cuba for Canadians? Right now may be the best time to book your trip.
In the first five months of 2015, Cuba has experienced a stark increase in travel by comparison to the same months in 2014.
- 14% increase in arrivals to Cuba from around the world
- 15% increase in overall tourism
- 14% increase in arrivals from Canada
- 57% increase in Americans traveling to Cuba via third countries (such as Canada) in order to bypass USA tourism restrictions
Photo Credit: Patrick Nouhailler
What This Means for Canadians
After the Dominican Republic, Cuba is the second most visited island in the Caribbean. Any kind of price increase will greatly impact travel for Canadians to this tropical destination. Allison Wallace, Director of Communications for Flight Centre Canada states, “Canadians can expect Cuba travel costs to increase 20-25%”.
Why will there be such drastic price changes for Canadians? First, US-Cuba relations have been warming up and it is expected that Americans will be completely free to travel to Cuba by the end of 2015. There are only so many places to stay and with an increased demand comes increased prices. JetBlue is now flying direct from US destinations to Cuba, and many people will take advantage of the cheaper airfare rates on this discount airline. Furthermore, Airbnb is not an option for Canadians. By law in Cuba, they can only rent to US citizens, making hotel rooms even more in demand for those with a Canadian passport
The Canadian dollar has lost a lot of value over recent times, meaning that it is more expensive to travel everywhere. An improved US-Cuba relationship means that Cubans may start to use the US dollar, making travel there even more expensive for Canadians.
The Cuba tourism sector is currently renegotiating its hotel room prices, airport landing fees with airlines, and the potential for cruise ships to sail to Cuba. The island will be busier with day trippers coming from cruise ships. Popular American hotel chains are likely to be constructed, making Cuba a more bustling travel destination with more people visiting overall.
The resorts are also busier with Cuban citizens traveling throughout their own country for a vacation. Since 2008, Cubans have been granted permission to visit their own resorts; previously, only foreigners were allowed to stay there. Now, Cubans are only second to Canadians at resorts, with an increase of Cuban tourists up 23% from 2014.
On the Bright Side…
Though travel prices will most likely be going up, there are some positive aspects of Cuba accepting more tourists. The quality of resorts could improve with more money flowing into the country. There could be more luxurious hotel rooms, increased amenities, and better choice of food at resort restaurants. There may no longer be the issue of finding WiFi in Cuba, which would be great for travel bloggers like myself! More importantly, this will hopefully provide a better quality of life for Cubans with more tourism dollars entering the country, especially with opportunities for small businesses to flourish.
Photo Credit: Neal Wellons
Best of Havana in 48 Hours
So, have I convinced you to hop on a plane straight to Cuba? I would highly encourage you to get off the resort and have a more authentic Cuban experience. Exploring Havana is definitely worthwhile and should be on your list of things to do. Flight Centre Canada’s Cuba expert, Jazz Kahgee (International Travel Consultant) shares how to make the most of Havana in 48 hours.
After you savour a delicious Cuban coffee, talk a stroll around town. Walk past El Capitolio and decide whether or not you’d like to pay a fee to go inside to see a huge bronze statue. Next, pass by the Partagas cigar company, and Parque Central. Keep your camera handy as you’ll see lots of stunning colonial architecture. Even though many are in desprate need of restoration, the buildings are almost overwhelmingly beautiful.
Enjoy lunch al fresco in the Plaza Catedral. People watch, soak up the atmosphere, and enjoy some live, local music. Also, enjoy the view of the Catedral de San Cristobal de la Habana, one of the oldest in the Caribbean.
After lunch, check out the Plaza de Revolucion. Consider taking the local bus or the Hop On Hop Off tourist bus around town.
Once back in Old Havana, walk along the Malecon in the early evening. Stop in for a mojito during cocktail hour at the Hotel Nacional. In the lobby, you can view a gallery of many famous celebrities that have visited hte hotel in the past.
Stop for dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner, head out on the town for a night of local music and dancing.
Havana: Day 2
In the morning, get your history fix at Castillo de los Tres Santos Reyes Magos del Morro or the Fortaleza de San Carlos de la Cabaña (or both!). Visiting these tourist destinations in the morning allows you to beat the crowds…and the heat.
After lunch, it’s time to go to the beach! While Havana is not right on the beach, you can visit the beaches east of Havana by taking the local bus ($2 for one way) or rent a vintage car ($20 for one way). You can purchase coconuts there with or without rum for a refreshing beverage.
Head back to the city for cocktail hour – be sure to have a drink at a rooftop bar to enjoy the view. Enjoy another delicious meal for dinner and another evening of music and dancing.
Photo Credit: Artur Stazewski
Canadians should travel to Cuba right now! You may want to visit there sooner rather than later.
Flight Centre Canada’s expert opinion explains that Cheap Cuba Vacation is on its Last Legs. So, why wait? Cuba has so much to offer. Beyond the beautiful beaches, there is a distinct culture to discover including local food, music, history, and architecture.