Photo: Katerina Bampaletaki
Not since those trips to socialist countries in the 1970s and 1980s have Cubans had the opportunity to travel on their own as tourists. Not only will the new emigration reform allow this, the government plans to take advantage of it.
Havanatur, currently part of the Ministry of Tourism, will be the authorized agency for packaged tours. I do not know if the fraternal ALBA countries will be available as one might hope, but Panama, the Dominican Republic and Mexico, or at least Cancun, are some nearby destinations.
Some travellers could also experience a kind of déjà vu if they returned to Russia to revisit familiar places once again. They would not find the interminably long lines to see if Lenin is more greenish or less glowing now that he enjoys the privacy that every corpse deserves. I do not know if any other destinations are planned. Perhaps China or Viet Nam?
Most will travel as a way to unwind, but without intermediaries they will, in due course, come to know another reality. It all depends on having hard currency, and as the old CIMEX* slogan goes, “Havanatur Will Take You.”
*Translator’s note: CIMEX stands for the Cuban Export-Import Corporation, Cuba’s largest commercial corporation. It is involved in finance, international and domestic trade, real estate, tourism and other businesses. It operates Havanatur, which has had a monopoly on travel from the United States.
January 25 2013