Cuba experienced a surge in foreign tourist visits over the past decade.
In the mid 1990s tourism surpassed sugar, long the mainstay of the Cuban economy
as the primary source of foreign exchange.
Cuba's premium cigars dominate the world market
with 70 percent of sales. The European Union is unhappy with the continuing trademark disputes between European
companies using controversial trademarks derived from products and services arising from Cuba. A new brand of
Habanos, Vegueros, is being produced in the Francisco Donatien factory. The cigars once reserved for visiting diplomats,
the "Trinidad", is now being produced in commercial quantities to be sold overseas.
Sugar, which has been the mainstay of the island’s economy for most
of its history, has fallen upon troubled times. In 1989, production was more than 8 million tons, but by the mid-1990s,
it had fallen to around 3.5 million tons. Since June 2002, the government has been implementing a comprehensive transformation
of this declining sector. Plans are to align production with world prices and close almost half the existing sugar mills, laying
off more than 100,000 workers. These workers are retrained in other fields and given new jobs.
Remittances play a large role in Cuba's accounts, accounting for
between $800 million and $1 billion per year to an $18.6 billion economy. The majority of remittances come from families in the
United States that are now permitted by U.S. law to send to the island. This provides nearly 60% of the Cuban
with some access to dollars.
Day 1. Sunday 8 September 2013. Hello Cuba
Arrival at "Jose Marti" International Airport in Havana city.
Group welcomed by your Cuban guide and bus driver for the entire tour.
Transfer to the Habana Libre Hotel
located at the cultural center of Havana City
Private group check-in.
Breakfast is complimentary from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Day 2. Monday 9 September 2013. Explore Cuba's Master Plan of Old Havana
Morning: meeting with representative of Office of the City Historian
. In 1995, special powers were granted to the Office of the City
Historian for the administration, restoration and development of the historic center.
The administrative responsibilities of the Office of the City Historian go beyond saving buildings and monuments to the training
and hiring of apprentices and artisans, architects, and planners. The Office also plows tourist-generated revenues into operations
of schools, hospitals and retirement homes in Old Havana. The office also ensures that schools, hospitals and retirement homes have
the necessary resources to operate properly.
With so many responsibilities and an obligation of self-financing all its activities, the Office of the Historian has established
several companies to generate the necessary funding to accomplish its goals. Habaguanex S.A.
, named after a native chief, owns most
of Old Havana's tourist facilities, hotels, restaurants, bars, markets and stores. All profits from the companies owned by the
Office of the Historian are reinvested in important social projects and restoration work.
Escorted by an architect from the Master Plan of the Office of the City Historian
, we will embark on a guided
walking tour of Old Havana
, UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We will visit restored areas and buildings where restoration is on progress. We also visit some hotels, and business entities
that provide financing for the Office of the City Historian.
Visit to Habaguanex S.A. Headquarters
and Lonja del Comercio
buildings (former Exchange of Havana),
a commercial building run by Real State Company Fenix S.A.
Welcome lunch at Cafe del Oriente restaurant
Afternoon: visit to the Cathedral Square
, the most beautiful and private 18th century colonial plaza of Cuba, named after the
masterpiece of Cuban baroque architecture: the Cathedral of Havana built by the Jesuit order.
Free time in the famous handicraft market of Old Havana
where you can purchase all sorts of crafts and souvenirs by local
Return to hotel.
, spectacular cabarets to open sky. A unique place in the world to enjoy the music and the Cuban and Caribbean
folklore in all their color, musicality and rhythm. An art extravaganza to multiply the Cuban happiness of a true tropical night.
Day 3. Tuesday 10 September 2013. Habanos S.A.
Morning: meet with representatives of Habanos S.A.
, a Cuban joint venture with the share capital owned by Cubatabaco,
a Cuban Government company and Altadis, a Spanish company owned by IMPERIAL TOBACCO GROUP PLC, a British Tobacco Company.
Its corporate purpose is to market all Cuban tobacco products, both in Cuba and throughout the rest of the world, of
which the internationally-known Habanos stands out.
Lunch at El Aljibe
Afternoon: visit to Partagas Cigar Factory
, founded in 1845 by Spaniard Don Jaime Partagas. Don Jaime owned many of the best
plantations in the Vuelta Abajo tobacco-growing region of Cuba and being able to choose from among the finest tobaccos
on the island made the brand Partagas incredibly successful.
Followed by panoramic air conditioned coach tour of the most important historical sites in the Modern Havana
, and Miramar including the Revolution Square
, University of Havana
, Habana Libre Hotel
, Coppelia Ice Cream
Park, Plaza José Martí (in front of U.S. Interests Section), Monument to the Battleship Maine, Malecón seawall, Prado promenade,
Central Park, The Great Theatre and the Capitol building.
Evening: attend one of the most traditional and popular ceremonies in Cuba, Fire of the Cannon of 9 O'Clock
at the Fortress
of San Carlos de La Cabana. Followed by visit to Casa del Habano “La Triada”
Day 4. Wednesday 11 September 2013. Havana Club S.A.
Morning: meet with Cuban representatives of Havana Club International
, a joint venture between Pernod Ricard and the Cuban
government. The Havana Club brand is sold outside of Cuba in conjunction with the Pernod Ricard drinks giant. Havana Club is
not sold in the United States, however, due to the United States embargo against Cuba.
Bacardi sells different rum in the U.S.,
also called Havana Club but unrelated to the Cuban version. The Bacardi product, which is made in Puerto Rico, has been the subject
of trademark violation litigation by Pernod Ricard.
Lunch on your own not included.
Afternoon: visit to the Havana Club Museum of Rum
. From freshly cut stalks of sugar cane to a reconstitution of a distillery and
ageing cellars, the museum offers a real-time experience of the rum-making process, as well as a taste of true Cuban culture.
Late afternoon: cocktail party at Club Habana
. Opportunity to exchange with some of our Cuban counterparts in a relaxed atmosphere.
Evening: enjoy Afrojazz, Cubajazz and Sonjazz at Club La Zorra y El Cuervo
, Havana’s most famous Jazz club, located just around the
corner from the National Hotel of Cuba. The club features astonishing performances by island bands and soloists!
(optional, not included)
Day 5. Thursday 12 September 2013. USA - Cuba Relations
Morning: visit to the Ministry of Foreign Relations of Cuba
(MINREX) for a presentation on past, present and future of USA-
Cuba diplomatic and economic relations.
Lunch at La Barraca restaurant
at the National Hotel.
Afternoon: meeting with Dr. Manuel Yepe
. Dr. Yepe will also give an informative presentation on key facts and figures of Cuba
that will help us have a basic understanding of demographics. Dr. Yepe is a lawyer, economist, former ambassador to Romania and
formally headed the Cuban broadcasting system and was chief editor of Prensa Latina a news agency.
Evening: attend baseball game
at the Latin-American Stadium of Havana (to be confirmed).
Day 6 Friday 13 September 2013. Explore's Cuba Tourism Industry
Day trip to Varadero Beach
, the largest resort complex in the Caribbean. It lies on a twenty kilometre long peninsula with
fantastic soft white beaches gleaming in the sunshine. Cuba receives over 2 million tourists a year; almost 40% of those visit
The area offers dozens of other tourist facilities like restaurants, cafeterias, marinas, a golf course, a dolphin aquarium and
a tourism and hotel management school.
In the mid 1990s tourism surpassed sugar, long the mainstay of the Cuban economy, as the primary source of foreign exchange.
Tourism figures prominently in the Cuban Government's plans for development, and a top official cast it as the "heart of the
economy". Cuba devotes significant resources to building new tourist facilities and renovating historic structures for use
in the tourism sector.
Rest stop in Bacunayagua Bridge
for a Piña Colada and enjoy the view over the highest bridge (110 mts) in Cuba, one of the marvels
of Cuban post- revolutionary architecture.
Visit to Matanzas City
, also known as the Venice of Cuba and the city of bridges of which there are seventeen crossing the three
rivers that traverse the city (over Yumuri, San Juan, and Canimar rivers). It is also known as "La Atenas de Cuba" (the Athens
of Cuba) for its wealth of poets.
Visit to Ediciones Vigia
. A unique publishing house that produces handmade paper and first edition copies of books.
Only 200 copies of each book is made so each is a collector’s item. Meet with director, publishers and artists.
Panoramic motor coach tour of the Peninsula de Hicacos
, Varadero to witness tourism development in the area.
Free time for lunch and enjoy the beach (optional)
Afternoon: return to Havana city.
Evening: Peña del Chan Chan at Casa de La Amistad
to hear a traditional septeto band playing live (optional).
Day 7. Saturday 14 September 2013. Free day
Free day in Havana.
Farewell dinner at La Cocina de Liliam
where ex- president James Carter dinned in his last visit to Cuba.
Day 8. Sunday 15 September 2013. Departure
Early morning departure to Havana City
International Airport for departure.