The mojito effect? Cuba seems immune to the Caribbean tourism slump


If America's spy satellites are trained on Cuba at this very moment, they're likely to reveal local tourism officials puffing away on celebratory Cohibas. The reason? While tourism is down big-time across the rest of the Caribbean, tourist arrivals to the Communist isle are up 3.1 percent, year to date. Compare that with Bermuda, Anguilla and the Bahamas, which all have suffered double-digit declines. In fact, Cuba is now the No. 2 Caribbean destination in terms of tourist arrivals after the Dominican Republic, where arrivals fell 2.4 percent year to date.

Though Cuba is renowned for its broad beaches, '50s cars and soulful music, it's not like other Caribbean nations are exactly lacking in charm. What Cuba now offers, though, is a really good deal for recession-weary sun-seekers, says the Caribbean Tourism Organization's Winfield Griffith. "I think Cuba has always been more of a competitive destination in terms of price and value for the money," says Griffith, the organization's director of research and information management. "There is a wide interest in Cuba among Canadians and Europeans."