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December 23rd, 2014

An American embassy in central Havana

Mary Anne

By Mary Anne Nelson
Travel Consultants

Are the golden arches of McDonalds going to descend on Havana in the near future? We can’t honestly answer that question quite yet; only speculate. But given that the United States has just announced its intention to open an embassy in Havana in the coming months, the once unthinkable is now a distinct possibility.

As with everything, there are pros and cons, people celebrating and people raging, but our take on this can be summarised in the answers to a few questions:

How will this effect tourism in the island?

We believe the number of visitors will increase manifold, and not just with Americans. Whether this will be wholly positive is debatable: granted, it will give the economy a tremendous boost. There are things we have come to expect when travelling there – an overly relaxed attitude towards schedules, frustratingly few road signs – which would both most likely be improved, but by the same token, the island may become a bit overcrowded. Cubans are known for their friendliness and the island is safe, but if the flood gates were to open to tourists there is the risk this could change.

Will there be a big demand for the relatively small number of hotel rooms?

Probably yes. It all depends on how this pans out – many Americans might believe that there is no need to go there, or better wait until changes take place before doing so. However – and given that already many find ways of getting there anyway – chances are that there will be an increased demand, which in turn will highlight this issue and could create a building craze or bidding war.

Do you need to get out to Cuba before changes take place?

Considering the above, yes. There will be changes and Cuba as we know it- with its paladares, Casas de la Trova, dancing everywhere and those ubiquitous cigars - might come to an end. Or it might not. We don’t know and neither do you, so you’d better go now just in case.

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