By: Daniela Bueso, TWP Tours Specialist
With borders slowly opening, vaccines quickly being distributed, and safety measures in place, future tours are looking promising. As TWP Tours staff, we have had a full year to reflect on our trips and how we can focus on positive impact and change in a new world defined by the Covid-19 pandemic. We are excited to be a part of a new form of travel, that supports local small businesses, communities, employees, while also becoming travellers instead of tourists. Becoming travellers means that we are more aware of ourselves, the people around us, the local culture, history, and how our way of travel can have a positive impact on the places we visit. This concept stems from Regenerative Tourism, a form of tourism that contributes to restoring local and rural economies by investing in the communities visited while also allowing travellers to get a deeper understanding of the location and have a more humbling experience.
One of the countries we’ve had our eyes on is Cuba. Cuba’s tourism industry took off back in 2014 when former president Obama improved the relationship with the island, allowing U.S. travellers to visit this magnificent place. As well as when Raul Castro, Cuba’s former President, began to promote opportunities in the private sector back in 2010, allowing restaurants, shoe repairers, small clothing stores, and workshops to take flight. Now with Joe Biden as president, the Cuban people are hopeful that he will reverse the previous restrictions and there will be an influx of US travellers in the near future (USA Today, 2021).
Since the pandemic hit, the Cuban people have had economic hardship and have been dealing with scarcity of basic goods. Hoping to recover from this economic fall out, the Cuban government announced in early February, a major reform which will allow small private businesses to operate in some fields once again. One of the biggest impacts of the pandemic to the island was the disruption to the tourism industry. Business will help jump-start the economy and create more jobs. Other proposed reforms aimed at pandemic relief include, the devaluation of the peso, increasing exports, cutting imports and increasing domestic demand, all of which are still pending (Reuters, 2021).
However, they are getting one step closer to mass producing a vaccine invented on the island. While also managing the spread of the virus with a tight control on the population and having an efficient system for delivering healthcare to those in need (NYT, 2021). This comes to show how Cuba is trying to propose policies and reforms to kick start travel into the island again in hopes to rebuild and restore their tourism industry.
When the opportunity arises to travel again, TWP Tours will add more purpose to our travel plan and provide a more holistic perspective of the community and culture.