A couple of years ago, many of my local friends were curious about traveling to Cuba. They seemed fascinated by the idea of traveling to an island isolated from reality for 50-plus years. I would often hear this expression: “I want to see it for myself”.
Some of my friends went and others never got to go. However, the ones who went all seem to be singing the same tune: “Beautiful beach, Okay hotel but the Internet does not work and the people are not happy.”
We learned today via the Miami Herald that Southwest Airlines is canceling flights to Cuba:
The announcement comes less than two weeks since President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the island. Americans can no longer go on individual people-to-people trips, and are barred from doing businesses with entities that are owned and controlled by Cuba’s military. Exactly how the policy works will depend regulations that have yet to be released.
However, Southwest stressed that the decision to discontinue its Varadero and Santa Clara flights was due to the challenge of stimulating demand in a new market like Cuba, said spokesman Brad Hawkins in a statement.
“The decision to discontinue these flights is not tied directly to the recent policy announcement, but follows many months of reviewing our performance in the Varadero and Santa Clara markets,” Hawkins said. “Unfortunately, we do not see a pathway to sustainably serving these markets due primarily to the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to Cuba by American citizens.”
Varadero in particular, a town in the northwestern coast of Cuba, is known for its resorts and pristine beaches — not the cultural, people-to-people experiences in which American travelers are allowed to participate.
Under rules established under the Barack Obama administration, Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba for “tourism” but must travel under one of 12 approved categories of travel that include family visits, educational and religious activities.
Don’t blame this one on President Trump, the embargo, or even President Obama. This is on Cuba’s leadership, or a country that never got out of 1962.
Before Castro or communism, Cuba had a highly developed tourism industry. Thousands of visitors went to Cuba to enjoy the beach, or the many historic places like colonial Trinidad, or Havana’s nightlife.
Contrary to Godfather II, or the worst teacher of Cuban history other than the regime’s propaganda. the island was not run by the Mafia, nor did people run to their boats the night that Batista left, nor were suicide bombers willing to die for the revolution. Yes, there were gambling places and prostitutes. There were also thousands of Americans who went to Cuba for their honeymoons or just to enjoy the place.
Furthermore, not a single American who went to pre-Castro complained about hot water or lousy hotels. Instead, they stayed at private hotels run by Cuban families who knew how to make tourists happy and return for more.
So the thrill is gone and Americans are not eager to see Cuba. It would be nice if the regime was gone soon so that the island can be restored to the prosperous place that communism destroyed.