It’s the start of the year so tourism officials around the world are pushing hard to become the next big destination. Don’t be swayed by glossy brochures and snazzy websites. Instead find out where you can find real value and memorable experiences. Peter’s top 8 destinations for 2012 include countries that are opening up to democracy, recovering from a natural disaster, and are emerging from the economic crisis as buyers’ markets for travelers.
For the first time in nearly a decade, the U.S. government loosened restrictions on travel to Cuba for 2012…if you play by the rules. To be the first on the block to travel to Cuba, all you have to do is go with program that has an educational, religious, cultural, or people-to-people component. If you have a desire to see the sights of classic Havana or witness the islands natural beauty, you’re not alone. According to a recent Travel Leaders survey, 75 percent of those polled have a desire to travel to Cuba or may consider a trip if the U.S. government lifts all restrictions
Keep in mind, even though Cuba is only a short distance away, it is not cheap to travel there. A weekend stay could cost you around $1,800. The good news is, there are currently more than 300 flights from Florida to Cuba; Delta and American Eagle already have charter services. The more demand, the lower the price will be in the future.
For a licensed trip to Cuba, cultural travel provider Distant Horizons is offering 70 programs to Cuba in the next 6 months which include a week in Havana and Trinidad, and 11 days in Havana, Trinidad, and Baracoa. Insight Cuba, which is one of the longest running tour operators to offer legal trips to Cuba, has created six new experiences with tours that focus on music, art and history to promote cultural immersion and education.
Here are a few quick facts to remember about travel to Cuba: It’s illegal to bring back more than $100 worth of Cuban goods (keep your cigar buying to a minimum). Original pieces of art, books and CDs are excluded from the embargo, but you may be subject to duty. U.S. dollars and credit cards are not allowed so make sure to change your cash into CUCs (the local convertible peso).