The Caribbean is a prime holiday destination, and tourism in Cuba is a perfect example.
What’s in Cuba?
The main reason people travel to Cuba is for the beaches. The island is ringed with fantastic beaches with white sand and blue Caribbean water. There are dozens of resorts and hotels where you can stay near the beach, even if you are on a tight budget. Aside from the beaches, there are other tourist attractions in Cuba that might interest a visitor who has done enough sunbathing. The cities have wonderful history, architecture and culture with a heavy Spanish influence.
Cuba’s Tourism Industry
Even though American’s are restricted from visiting Cuba, there are still more than 2 million tourists visiting the country each year. Visitors come to Cuba mostly from Canada and Europe, usually with plans to spend their time at the beach. Tourists also come from around the Caribbean, Mexico and South America too. Tourism has become the largest source of income for the country.
One unusual twist to tourism in Cuba, is the rise in the number of people visiting Cuba for medical reasons, or the so-called “health tourism”. Thousands of people come to Cuba every year for surgeries and other medical procedures, usually because the treatment is cheaper than at home. The socialist government in Cuba provides free health care to all Cubans, and there is a large population of doctors though equipment and drugs are often in short supply. Tourists who come for medical reasons pay with hard currency, which helps the overall economy.
Recent Tourism Changes
Until 1997, it was actually illegal for international tourists to have any contact with local Cubans. This is still a widely-held misconception about Cuba though it is no longer true. Many of the larger resorts are quite isolated which still keeps tourists from mingling with locals. If you want to see more of Cuba, you will have to leave the resorts, and do some sight-seeing in the cities instead.
Another recent change in Cuba is that the US dollar is no longer accepted as currency in the country. As of 2004, all tourists have to convert their money into convertible pesos (CUC) which are not the same as the pesos used by regular Cubans.
Planning a Trip
If you are thinking of heading to Cuba, here are a few other pages that you should read while you plan your trip:
<< Go back to the main Cuba Travel Information page