The tourism rate in Cuba has increased as visitors worldwide flooded Havana’s streets months after the country closed its borders due to the pandemic.
According to Reuters, the rise in tourism will benefit the countries ailing economy after it suffered for nearly two years due to the global shutdown. While Cuba is deeply rooted in communism, the government has vaccinated most of its population with home-grown inoculations, pushing last week to reopen its borders as visitors start to trickle into the country.
The infection rate has also decreased across the country in recent weeks, according to the statistics report.
One of the main attractions in Cuba for tourism is the Bodeguita del Medio, a popular restaurant bar that is known to be the birthplace of the mojito cocktail. Reuters reported that the restaurant had many customers on a beautiful November day as bartenders prepared to make the signature drink for mostly European tourists dressed in casual shorts and t-shirts.
Ernesto Hechevarria, a 55-year old tourism guide, shared some historical information with Reuters outside the bar. For example, author Ernest Hemingway once frequented the eatery years ago, said Hechevarria. Since tourism has officially returned to Havana, he believes foreign visitors would breathe life into the city.
“Tourism is the engine of Cuba’s economy,” Hechevarria said as he watched tourists come in and out. “Now the economy is beginning to revive.”
Due to the global pandemic, government authorities closed schools, entertainment venues, and restaurants. In addition, the airline industry had to scale back flights to the island for nearly two years, exacerbating an economic crisis that left residents short of food and medicine, according to Reuters.
Dayana Siloche, who sells traditional Cuban handicrafts to tourists in Havana, had seen her livelihood disappear as tourism was placed on a two-year hiatus.
“Everything had come to a standstill. We couldn’t make enough to eat. There was nothing,” Siloche told Reuters. “Now, little by little, things are returning to normal.”
While there are many things to do as a tourist in Cuba, taking the best selfies along the streets of Havana is the best way to capture the moment while on vacation.
Spaniard Ignacio Pindado wandered through Havana’s central Plaza de la Revolucion, delighted with the opportunity to travel once again.
“Being able to come here, and to see international borders like those of Cuba once again reopen, is marvelous,” Pindado told Reuters.