Thursday, March 31, 2016
Our Man In Havana

As tourism in Cuba continues to increase at a steady pace, lots of people hoping to get to the island before “the change,” will need to hurry up.

Both Cubans living on the island and longtime visitors are echoing a common theme and that is “I remember when.” Be it good or bad, it is what it is.

For sure, the influx of American dollars, by way of the Cuban Convertible Peso, or CUC, is a welcomed infusion to the economy, but where will these visitors sleep? With only 63,000 hotel rooms on the island, and more than 3 million tourists in 2015, seeing travelers sleeping in parks is no longer a strange sight.

There are, however, benefits that come with the influx for Cubans who interface with tourists. The number of “Casa Particulares,” (private houses), has exploded and helps ease the lack of hotel rooms. And at about $30 to now $50 (equivalent in Cuban Convertible Pesos, CUC), travelers can expect two beds, hot water, an A/C unit and a secure home with gracious hosts happy to prepare fantastic meals for less than a restaurant.

Unfortunately for travelers, with tourism numbers bursting at the seams, cab rides from the airport, which, for the past two decades had been a standard $25 CUC, can now be as much as $40 CUC, depending on demand.

With the possibility of commercial flights opening later this year between the U.S. and Cuba, experts say the problem may only grow.