Cuba

Environment:

Cuba, an island between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, is the largest country in the Caribbean. It is mostly flat to rolling plains, with rugged hills and mountains in the southeast. The highest point is Pico Turquino at 2,005 meters (6,480 feet), in Turquino National Park. Environmental issues include air and water pollution, loss of biodiversity, and deforestation.

Cuba has a national system of protected areas called SNAP (Sistema Nacional de Áreas Protegidas), headquartered at the national center for protected areas in Havana. In the region of Santiago de Cuba is the Cuchillas del Toa Biosphere Reserve, surrounding the World Heritage Alejandro de Humboldt National Park. The town of Santiago de Cuba is also home to the Castillo de San Pedro de la Roca World Heritage site. Cuban nature reserves, such as Las Terrazas in the Sierra del Rosario and Topes de Collantes in the Sierra del Escambray, also offer opportunities for nature tourism.

Since its inception in 2001, TURNAT has become Cuba’s regular international nature tourism event (Evento Internacional de Turismo de Naturaleza), organized by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR). One of the main organizers of TURNAT is Zady Abud Morejón, manager of the Havana travel agency Ecotur. Cubamar Viajes is another Cuban travel agency specializing in nature tourism and adventure travel.

There are quite a few dolphinariums and swim with the dolphins programs in Cuba, including the National Aquarium of Cuba in Havana and the Varadero Dolphinarium. Like other Caribbean islands, Cuba offers ample scuba diving opportunities, such as Avalon Cuban Diving Centers.

Biosphere reserves:

National Parks:

IUCN members:

Culture:

The native Amerindian population of Cuba began to decline after Christopher Columbus discovered it in 1492. Over several centuries of development as a Spanish colony, arge numbers of African slaves were imported to work the plantations. Occasional rebellions were harshly suppressed by the Spanish. US intervention 1898 during the Spanish-American War finally overthrew Spanish rule. Cuban independence was granted in 1902. In 1959, Fidel Castro lead rebels to victory in the Cuban Revolution. The historical anomaly of the controversial United States Guantanamo Bay Naval Base represents just one bizarre vestige of that conflict.

Pre-revolutionary Cuba had been one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Caribbean; however, in response to the nationalization of property of US citizens by post-revolutionary Cuba, the United States had imposed a near-total economic embargo against Cuba by 1962, not only in effect a blockade but also a ban on ordinary tourism by non-Cuban US citizens. Cuba suffered a severe economic recession in 1990, in the wake of the collapse of its staunch ally the Soviet Union, so began to look to international tourism development once again, which is referred to as the Special Period. Today, US citizens conform to the Cuban Assets Control Regulations administered by the US Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control program of Cuba Sanctions. And as a result, the United States Interests Section in Havana (of the Embassy of Switzerland) or USINT Havana now represents US interests in Cuba.

The Cuba Museums Guide is an online directory of museums in Cuba. The Che Guevara Mausoleum (Mausoleo Che Guevara) in Santa Clara contains the remains of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and fellow combatants killed in Bolivia during an attempted 1967 uprising. John Lennon Park (Parque John Lennon) is a public park in the Vedado district of Havana, with a sculpture of the former Beatles member seated on a bench. Cocotaxi refers to the auto rickshaw type taxis in Cuba, with two seats, three wheels, and “coconut” shaped fiber glass body. The Hemingway International Yacht Club of Cuba (Club Náutico Internacional Hemingway de Cuba) is in Havana. Wallace and Barbara Smith have written a guidebook to Bicycling Cuba (2002). CanBiCuba does make some modern touring bicycles available for rental in Havana.

Insight Cuba is the largest non-profit provider of legal people-to-people travel to Cuba for Americans. Cuba Cultural Travel is another American provider of people-to-people tours to Cuba. Canada based Authentic Cuba Travel does offer an interesting selection of specialized package tours, available for Americans. Cuba Education and Explorer Tours is another Canada based organization offering people-to-people tours to Cuba for Americans. Global Exchange organizes all kinds of “reality tours” to the real Cuba, as does Witness for Peace. Experience The Real Cuba offers to organize Spanish language learning and homestays in Trinidad, Cuba. Cuba Travel Services is a provider of public charter flights between Miami and Havana. Otherwise, the Mexican carrier Interjet flies cheaply between Mexico City and Havana.

In Cuba, casa particular (“private house”) means private accommodation or homestay, similar to bed and breakfast although it can also be a vacation rental; both Bed And Breakfast In Cuba and Cuba Rent Rooms offer online reservations for casas particulares in Cuba. There are two Hostelling International Cuba hostels in Havana, two in Varadero, and others in major Cuban destinations. Campismo Popular is the official online directory of Cuban campgrounds and outdoor recreation. One of the most colorful online travel agencies specializing in Cuba would be Cubalinda.com, operated by CIA whistleblower, Philip Agee, until his death in exile Cuba in 2007; in his 1975 book, Inside the Company: CIA Diary, Agee exposed CIA involvement in Latin America’s dirty wars. Note, Cuba has a specially designated Internet domain for tourism: *.TUR.CU. GET (Grupo de Electrónica para el Turismo) is a specialized service of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism providing information technology services to the tourism industry.

World Heritage:

ICCROM members:

References:

  • Systemic model of training management for sustainable tourism in Vinales, Cuba by T Vargas Fernández, 2011
  • Rights-based tourism–tourist engagement in social change, globalised social movements and endogenous development in Cuba by R Spencer, 2010
  • A changing Cuba in a Changing World: The Implementation of Sustainable Principles Into Beach Tourism in Cuba by J van Ginkel, 2009
  • International tourism in Cuba: Can capitalism be used to save socialism? by HL Taylor Jr & L McGlynn, 2009
  • Sex Tourism in Modern Cuba: An Outgrowth of the Tourism Industry’s Focus on Free Market Capitalism by A Plasencia, 2009
  • Tan Verde Como Sea Posible: The Potential for Ecotourism Development in Cuba by G Williams, 2008
  • A Castle in the Sand: Examining Cuban Ecotourism in Theory and Practice by RM Quick, 2007
  • Cuba and Ecotourism: Case Study: Biosphere Reserve Cienaga de Zapata by E Engelen, 2006
  • Cuban Trade And Tourism: Economic, Political, And Social Concerns by FE Sixto, 2006
  • Ecotourism and sustainability in Cuba: does socialism make a difference? by A Winson, 2006
  • Pragmatic socialism or neoliberal capitalism? Tourism and sustainable development in Special Period Cuba by GD Hodge, 2006
  • Eco-tourism: Strategy for sustainable development? A case study of Las Terrazas, Cuba by S Von Sychowski, 2005
  • Tourism and sustainable development: the case of the historic centre of Havana-Cuba by E Salinas Chávez & M Echarri Chávez, 2005
  • Matching Sustainable Tourism with Socialist Goals: Can Cuba Have It All? by S Bleasdale & S Tapsell, 2003
  • The role of cultural tourism for sustainable development: the case of music in Cuba by T Aoki, 2003
  • The social construction of tourism in Cuba: A geographic analysis of the representations of gender and race during the special period by MW Cornebise, 2003
  • International Tourism and Protection of Cuba’s Coastal and Marine Environments by DJ Whittle, KC Lindeman & JTB Tripp, 2002
  • Sustainable Coastal Tourism in Cuba: Roles of Environmental Assessments, Certification Programs, and Protection Fees by KC Lindeman, JTB Tripp, DJ Whittle & A Moulaert-Quiros, 2001
  • Evaluation of Ecotourism and Resources Use in Cuba by J McLachlan-Karr, HT Odum & W Messina, 2001
  • Cuba Seeks Right Mix of Eco-tourism by N Winfield, 2000
  • Islands of capitalism in a sea of socialism: Cuban tourism and workers in the second economy by T Henken, 2000
  • Cuba: growth of tourism and ecotourism during the ‘special period’ by M Honey, 1999
  • Planning for Sustainable Tourism in Old Havana, Cuba by E Rohr, 1999
  • Sustainable tourism development in Cuba by D Williams, 1999
  • Developing a sustainable tourism approach for Cayo Coco, Cuba by C Buckler, 1998
  • The changing face of Cuban socialism: Tourism and planning in the post-Soviet era by JL Scarpaci, 1998
  • Promoting environmental and social gain through ecotourism: Cuban and international perspectives by D Williams, 1996
  • Tourism in socialist Cuba by MD Espino, DJ Gayle & JN Goodrich, 1993
  • Ecotourism: New Option for Cuba by A Cepero, 1992