Traveling is opening the door to discover not only incredible places, but also other cultures opening your mind to thousands of new ways of seeing the world. Each trip can become a unique adventure for you, but what about the planet? And for the local population? And for wildlife? In recent years, we have heard the words sustainable tourism more and more, and today we want to convince you that planning a sustainable trip to Cuba is the best option to get to know the real Cuba.
In Espiritu Travel we want to ensure that not only each of our customized trips to Cuba provides a truly enriching experience for travelers but that every trip contributes to local economy and reduces the negative environmental impacts. To become a more sustainability company we have partner with CCC’s Carbon Neutral Checkout, a program that measures the greenhouse gas emissions associated with every trip with Espíritu Travel.
Continue reading to discover the benefits of planning a sustainable trip to Cuba.
But first, what is sustainable travel?
All forms of tourism, like all actions, have impacts. The difference is that the main objective of making a responsible trip is to maximize the benefits associated with tourist activities, while minimizing the damage.
Sustainable Tourism has to do with making the most of the natural, economic, social and cultural resources of a destination, without generating negative impacts on the society or on its environment. At the same time, this type of tourism is an engine of economic and social development, so when choosing a flight, for example, find out about the carbon footprints it generates. This is already a step!
Responsible travel does not mean having to compromise on the quality or enjoyment of your trip to Cuba in fact in Espíritu Travel we believe it enhances the experience of getting to know the people and culture of Cuba. Check out ourcustomizable trip plans to Cuba!
You can read more about sustainable tourism here.
Plan a sustainable trip to Cuba
Choose staying in a Casa Particular
Unlike other Latin American destinations, in Cuba there are two different types of accommodation, hotels and casas particulares. These are private houses licensed by the government under strict conditions to rent en-suite rooms to foreigners. A sort of micro bed and breakfast that has been set up in people’s homes. It is the best way to learn and share about the Cuban community!
Staying in a casa particular is without a doubt one of the best recipes to get to know Cubans way of life, while helping the local community. You will not only invest in the local community but you will also participate in a cultural exchange that will enrich you and your hosts.
Learn, whenever possible, about the cultural aspects of Cuba (customs, gastronomy, languages …). Also, make sure you know their social norms to avoid behaviors that may be offensive or humiliating to your host community.
Eat at Cuban local restaurants: Paladares
What better way than to know Cuba than through the gastronomy? Avoid eating in the large chain restaurants that you find on the corner of your hometown, try local products that are produced in Cuba and consume in the local restaurant.
In Cuba you will find private owned restaurant by Cubans almost everywhere, they are call Paladares. Do not hesitate to ask your local guide for a good Paladar to have lunch. I assure you that your gastronomic experience will be more authentic!
Use local guides and small group or private activities.
Who better to show you the country than the local people? Try when possible to book activities in small groups or private to minimize the impact of carrying out the activity in the environment.
A private visit allows travelers to learn more and talk with local people. You can share your points of view, listen to the guide’s comments on certain historical or current events and educate each other about their respective cultures and traditions. The benefit of the activity will be reinvested in the community!
How can you travel in a sustainable way to Cuba?
1. Before traveling, find out about Cuba
Before setting off, find out about the characteristics of Cuba as a destination and prepare the necessary documentation, medical checks and travel insurance. When traveling to a new country it is important, we find out about their customs to not disturb the local population. For example if when you are traveling to Cuba there is a festival or parade going on in Havana, do not hesitate and participate but in a respectful way.
2. Consume Cuban local products and services
By consuming products or services locally made, you will help strengthen local entrepreneurs and the profits will be reinvested on the local population. When you buy any good or service, buy only what you really need and do it at a fair price.
Cuba’s availability of basic products or services is very limited and the population itself sometimes has difficulty obtaining basic products. Consume responsibly! Not because you are far from home you should waste, the use of energy and the expense of water has an impact on Cuba, just as it does at your home.
Small gestures to consume responsibly: ask Espíritu Travel local guide where can you buy locally, your gift will be more authentic and if it is handmade it will be unique. At your accommodation, try to avoid changing towels every day.
3. Contributes to the conservation, protection and regeneration of Cuban ecosystems
We all love visiting natural landscapes and living with animals, but as Responsible Travelers we must make sure that the ecosystem is not damaged. On the contrary, tourism should serve to protect it, regenerate it and help it grow.
In order not to contribute to the destruction of Cuban flora and fauna, look only for products, experiences and services that guarantee the sustainable exploitation of natural resources and that avoid animal abuse in Cuba. In Espíritu Travel we make sure to choose our local providers so that they fallow a sustainable policy and respect the environment.
What can I do? Do not participate in activities where animals are removed from their habitat. Do not swim with the dolphins or pick flowers or plants from the parks you visit. Petting a wild animal is not “normal” and if you want to dive with sharks, do it with a diving school that doesn’t feed them. No one guarantees that you will see them, but if you do, the observation will be in a more natural way.
You can check FAADA, a reference in responsible tourism with animals.
4. Respect Cuban diversity and do not encourage discriminatory activities
If our impact on nature can be dangerous, the impact on other people is even more so. Especially with the most disadvantaged groups. If a child asks you for money, do not give it to him/her since it will cause that child to ask for money again instead of going to school. Find out about the organizations that exist in the destination and participate in one of the many charitable actions of the destination.
In Espíritu Travel we provide monthly donations to AniPlant, an independent membership organization dedicated to the protection of domestic animals in Cuba.
5. Promotes fair and dignified working conditions
Check that everything you consume, or buy has been produced by people with fair working conditions, who are not minors, who avoid sexual or child exploitation, unhealthiness or animal abuse. Ask you local guide!
Have I convinced you? It’s not that difficult right. We can all reduce our footprint when we travel by performing actions as simple as not feeding the animals or taking a reusable bottle on our trip so we do not have to buy a plastic one. In summary, you enrich the world, while you enrich yourself by traveling.
At Espiritu Travel we design trips to Cuba that create jobs, help local families, collaborate with locals, and endorse real connections between countries and people. Our biggest challenge is to offer real experiences planning a sustainable trip to Cuba. Start planning your sustainable trip to Cuba here.