The quiet fear of the tourist boards and governments across the Caribbean looks like it is no longer just beyond the horizon, it is about to wash ashore. The US travel restraints on Cuba are about to change.
The Caribbean has had the fortunate opportunity to be a multi-cultural microcosm in which cultural, economic and financial research and experimentation can be done. The results of which have implications for larger developing and underdeveloped nations globally. This has allowed FDI from both North America & the European Union in a way that is more easily controlled than had they initiated these projects in say the politically unstable nations in Africa. (No, not all of Africa is unstable.)
With the changes these works have made in the Caribbean, it has affected our technological advancement in many areas including and most notoriously communications. In the case of Jamaica, we are overly connected, we have more cell phones than citizens and we are more wired to the net than the “developed” nations. The unique opportunity offered by Cuba is the opportunity to develop these infrastructures there, to be the first person to provide opportunities to a nation largely prevented from having them. Imagine being the first to offer Hondas or Toyotas to Cuba? Even if it takes time to develop, you would be like KFC in Jamaica, a part of the culture.
If one thinks about it, Cuba is about to become a great place for research, filming, investment, outreach and most importantly a possible new tax haven. Caribbean peoples, our advances in life are about to cost us.
The Caribbean in tourism has become the getaway that’s close to home. For the larger economies like Trinidad & Tobago, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic we offer “all the amenities of home with the view of a beach” and some random other offerings. We are filled with all-inclusives, the same swim with the dolphins experience, the same calypso music (on resorts at least), pretty much a generic experience. The Lesser Antilles offer “a colonial experience on the beach with most of the amenities of home”. In a nutshell, they offer white sand, white sheets with dark wood four-poster beds, servants with
Bermuda shorts on. We each add just enough “culture” to make them feel they’ve gone somewhere. Cuba is about to bust our bubble.
This is just one step towards opening up Cuba to freedom of travel for everyone. This means our tourists who really want to get away will now go to Cuba, not our islands. Their culture is still undiluted by the Mickey Mouse/Barbie one forced upon us under the presumption it was better for us. There is no Burger King, McDonalds, Doritos, or ESPN. You enter and have no choice but to be immersed in the culture of a nation left unspoiled since the Kennedy Era.
It becomes both a journey into a better time in the US as well as the rich beauty of the island life.
Yes, we just lost our tourism market, we are about to become a “poor-man’s Cuba”. What are we going to do about it?