Travel destinations

on troubled travel destinations | TravelPulse


Some time ago, I posted an image on Instagram from my 2019 visit to the Colombian region of La Guajira. The image elicited the following response from a follower: “I believe I read that teenagers who opposed the regime were being executed.

Following a more in-depth digital discussion, I learned that the poster, a longtime public relations professional, seeks to warn potential travelers to avoid the South American nation.

As is often the case with social media, it seems the poster wasn’t particularly strong on the facts. My subsequent internet searches yielded around 20 stories about the protests, but none of the articles I found mentioned the “executions” of teenagers.

Of course, I have found many stories of the May protests in which 19 people were allegedly killed in clashes between police and protesters, with “hundreds” injured. Citizens have reportedly demonstrated against poverty and unemployment following the pandemic.

But Colombia is far from alone in this regard. In fact, similar protests have occurred in countries around the world since the pandemic, including the United States. While most did not result in deadly violence, incidents like those in Colombia have occurred in other cities around the world over the past year.

The incidents highlight a problem inexorably linked to leisure travel: how to approach travel to destinations impacted by political and social unrest. There are no easy answers, and two of the Caribbean’s most distinctive travel destinations, Cuba and Haiti, currently fit the struggling travel destination paradigm.

Difficult moments

Long entangled in perceived and real difficulties due to the embargo on travel with the United States, Cuba has struggled to resume tourism activity following the pandemic and the ban on cruise tourism by the United States. administration in 2019, which the Biden administration has so far abandoned.

Although it is open to American travelers, entering Cuba is not straightforward. Requirements include medical insurance and COVID-19 testing before and on arrival, with more testing on day five.

Cuban travelers must also self-quarantine until a negative result is obtained. As before the pandemic, Americans can also visit only in specific travel categories, including support for the Cuban people. Flights to Cuba from the United States are also limited.

Equally important is whether it is safe – or even ethical – to visit a country in the grip of serious political turmoil. Protests like those in Cuba at least reveal the urgency among segments of the population to tackle important societal issues.

Leisure travel in this context can seem insensitive, and travelers’ personal feelings about the plight of protesters are likely to influence their decisions regarding their travel to Cuba. Since violence and arrests also accompanied the protests, security can also be an issue.

Haiti’s artistic culture is unmatched among Caribbean destinations (Photo by Brian Major)

Haiti faces an even more tense situation following the gruesome assassination of President Jovenel Moise earlier this month. Moise’s death came amid growing political and societal insecurity following the outbreak in the Caribbean nation.

Like Cuba, Haiti is open to American visitors, but the current situation makes travel off limits to most Americans. The US Department of State classifies Haiti as a Level 4 country: Do not travel due to issues such as “civil unrest”.

Cuba is also classified as Level 4 in part due to “demonstrable and sometimes debilitating injuries inflicted on members of our diplomatic community, resulting in downsizing of embassy staff.”

While the two nations are embroiled in intense political and societal turmoil, there is hardly any region that has not experienced similar adversity, from Asia to Europe, to Israel and even our own country. Theoretically, no city is immune to one day becoming a travel risk.

These difficult circumstances force equally difficult decisions to be made about whether – and when – it will be possible to visit these places again.

It’s extremely unfortunate either way here, as Cuba and Haiti are among the most fascinating travel destinations, not only in the Caribbean, but all over the world.

Visitors to Havana and other Cuban cities like Trinidad de Cuba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, will find readily accessible and abundant examples of Cuban history, music, cuisine and culture. . The splendid natural beauty of Cuba is emblematic of the treasures of sea, sand and sun that characterize the landscapes of the Caribbean.

Equally impressive are Haiti’s natural and cultural treasures. The country has the most important art scene in the Caribbean, with thousands of artisans working in a range of media. There are several galleries, craft cooperatives and art museums in Port-au-Prince as well as artist colonies in the towns of Jacmel and Noailles.

It is not known when most travelers will be able to visit these two wonderful countries again in the same manner and with the same air of confidence as in previous years.

In each case, we can only hope that the will expressed by the citizens of both countries will determine and should determine what their future will look like and whether that future includes the safe and welcome exposure to travelers that these fascinating countries deserve.


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