'New York Times' Promotes Fantasy Tours to Communist Cuba

In 2015, more Americans traveled to Cuba than at any time since the Cuban Revolution took place in 1959. The Wall Street Journal reports that since President Obama began his opening to Cuba in December of 2014, travel was up by 50% and is predicted to triple in 2016. Tour companies are now reporting that many hotels are booked up through next December.

Reported USA Today:

The U.S Tour Operators Association named Cuba its top emerging and off-the-beaten path destination followed by Myanmar, Iceland and Colombia. Ethiopia and Japan tied for fifth.

It used to be hard to go to Cuba, but not anymore. Travel and Leisure has informed its readers that as of January 1:

Travel to Cuba just got a little easier, thanks to a new set of regulations that take effect today and expand on President Obama’s recent policy changes.

All you have to do is sign a form saying that you are going there for one of 12 authorized reasons. Twelve. The reasons are so broad that virtually anyone can find something to check.

The magazine’s digital editor, Melanie Lieberman, writes:

Havana has become one of the most exciting destinations on our radar. It is now a real possibility that this year, anyone will be able to plan a trip there without signing up for a rigid people-to-people tour.

Verizon will have cell phone coverage there, regular commercial flights to Cuba will begin soon, and major cruise lines are planning to stop there regularly. As Lieberman puts it:

Visiting the capital is like stepping into a vintage photograph: washed-out colonial façades and cobblestone streets bustling with antique Fords and Chevys.

No publication has been an advocate for travel to Cuba more than the New York Times. On Sunday the paper outdid itself, featuring a long article by Damien Cave in its weekly “36 Hours” series. Cave lists 13 exciting things you can do in Cuba, which will “Get Your Groove On.” One restaurant he recommends epitomizes “The New Cool.” Cave says you can bar-hop at night, see new Cuban art, get nice views of the sea, smoke and buy those famous Cuban cigars, get a great Cuban cappuccino, and enjoy a wonderful “black ink seafood risotto.” You can end your stay by going to the famous white sand Varadero Beach, with its “pristine shores.”

And please -- don’t forget your daiquiri at the bar favored by Ernest Hemingway.

To make the trip even more enticing, at the top of the Times website, you can view a video. As one of the young hip Cubans tells the interviewer:

All eyes are on Cuba. It’s trendy.

The video shows young people singing and dancing in a club, Cuban families enjoying a beautiful beach on the weekend, and middle-aged American tourists perusing an art gallery.

This is the Cuba that is reserved for well-off Western tourists.

And you'd have to be. If you go to travel websites or groups that have tours of Cuba scheduled, most will cost between $5000 to $7000 for less than a one-week trip.

You won't be shown the truth about Cuba, you'll get the "trendy" experience of a Potemkin village tour. You will be shepherded around the restored center of old Havana, restored tourist sites like Hemingway’s villa, and the Partagas tobacco factory. If you still need convincing about Cuba's "New Cool," you will meet with groups of Cubans who will make it appear that life is good and normal under the Castro brothers.

Of course, life is not wonderful for the majority of the Cuban people.