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CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR'S BOOKS

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

CUBAN TOURISM

"A child who does not think about what happens around him and is content with living without wondering whether he lives honestly is like a man who lives from a scoundrel's work and is on the road to being a scoundrel."
-Jose Marti

Carribbean Resort
Tourism to Cuba from the United States has fluctuated between being totally banned and highly restricted since the revolution in the 1959. Other nations, such as Canada, have been less restricted and some such as Russia have had open travel (or, as open as a totalitarian communist country can be). Cuba was once a paradise for travel, a tourist destination favored in a region fueled almost entirely by tourism. Since the revolution this has been less so, and over the years mismanagement, a brutal dictatorship, and seizure of the primary tourist spots by the government has all but destroyed this income.

Now, we learn from a Canadian travel site that the taxes have been raised on luggage brought into the country.
The NEW RULES are that you are now allowed ONLY 30 kilos of luggage per person regardless of what the items are, and you are CHARGED a WHOPPING 10 CUC PER KILO for every KILO that you are over the 30 kilo limit. This INCLUDES all personal items, camera equipment, dive equipment, sports equipment, bicycles or ANYTHING else that a tourist might have with them. There are NO exceptions to this.

My friends were a total of 33 kilos over the 30 kilo limit and were charged 330 CUC ($435 CDN) to bring their luggage into Cuba. They asked what their choices were and were told that they either pay or go into the Aduana secondary inspection area and abandon whatever it takes to get their weight down to 30 kilos each. They chose to pay, but were NOT happy with that.

IMHO this is going to have serious consequences for tourism, especially for people like me who travel with a laptop and extensive camera equipment which alone weighs nearly 15 kilos. I can’t imagine how this will affect sport scuba diving in Cuba. Nobody in their right mind will pay to bring personal diving or other sports equipment into Cuba at those prices.

This will seriously make me reconsider Cuba as either a vacation or photography destination.
I should think so. Given that the Cuban government pretends it's money is worth so much and charges that kind of cash for flights through their airports, it is going to take a bite out of visitors. Other people at the forum responded:
That's such a shame. :P

I would also like to know if it's happening in Varadero. We'll be arriving in March and we'll be bringing our baby's stroller, playpen and other baby necessities. I figured we'd get hit a bit in Wpg for our overweight luggage, but hopefully not a second time in Varadero (plus the weight of the stroller and playpen).

Yikes!
-by wpgirl


This amounts to an "arrival" tax of major proportions. Even though our carrier allows us nearly 70 kilos per person (in business class), we will still pay dearly if we take advantage of our limit. The Cuban government is trying to get our money before we have a chance to use it for tipping at the resorts. Perhaps they are topping up the government coffers to pay for hosting the dignataries who will soon be arriving for "the funeral". We have to assume this is happening at ALL arrival locations in Cuba. Surely they aren't confining this practice to Havana. Hopefully, those arriving back in Canada will let us know.
-by nssunlovers


Here's the Cuban Customs announcement in the Official Gazette in Spanish, it says it went into effect Jan 01 2007...30kgs of personal items duty free plus 10kgs of 'medicamentos', medications duty free, so just under 100 pounds of things per person. I've always considered 'medications' to include medicated shampoo, toothpaste, suntan lotion, cremes, painkillers, etc or any diet foodstuffs for personal use, which my doctor would probably vouch for.

Basically if I want to be the traveler I can still take a 20 kg bicycle in a box or bag (with a few bike camping things), a 10 kg box or suitcase of 'meds', wear some extra clothes and a cargo jacket on the plane, and still carry a 5 kg carryon bag and a 5 kg 'purse' or small laptop bag without paying a peso for duty...lol, just about like what some have been doing anyway. ;)

Light weight bags or containers will help.
-by Flygt


I hear through the grapevine that this is only affecting passengers arriving on scheduled carriers, not charters.
-by MamaBelgium
Of course, these travelers could always choose a different destination that doesn't funnel money into a corrupt dictatorship and maintain a communist outpost. It seems clear to me that Raoul Castro is trying to line his pockets even more than Fidel, although it's possible that this is an effort to cut back on goodies brought from the outside to locals such as outside news and materials to help contact the outside world.

Either way, this is a significant expense to what is already a fairly spendy trip to resorts in the country, and it does frustrate me that these Canadians are willing to go there rather than other Island resorts in the Caribbean and support the exploitation and tyranny the people face in Cuba.

*A tip of the chapeau to Bablu Blog for this story
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