Responsible tourism: Family cycling holiday in Cuba
Activity: Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a cycling trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We operate on a strict ‘leave no trace’ policy and local guides enforce this through responsible tourism briefings. These should help clients better understand the living situation for many and the environmental issues in the area. We also aim to benefit Cuban communities as much as possible by stopping to use local restaurants, cafes and services.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Accommodation and Meals: We spend 4 nights in hotels and 3 nights in ‘Casas Particulares’ in Vinales and Trinidad. These are privately owned, Bed and Breakfast properties which enable you to have a rewarding insight into the local lifestyle by staying in a family home. Where meals are provided, fresh and local ingredients are always used. Although this is largely out of necessity, we can ensure that local farmers and vendors benefit. We visit a number of local, family-run restaurants called ‘Paladares’ throughout the trip. These sell a variety of authentic, Cuban dishes like fresh lobster, black beans and rice, roast pork and chickpea stew.
Local Craft and Culture: We visit several important cultural and historical sites on this tour, where our entrance fees contribute towards the preservation of artefacts and monuments that commemorate events integral to Cuban heritage. These include the Bay of Pigs museum and Guevara’s Mausoleum in Santa Clara. We encounter small handicraft stalls in most towns, so guests are able to purchase local crafts. Trinidad is famous for ceramic and lacework, and Havana’s Almacenes de San Juan is a great place to buy art, crafts, Cuban made shoes, clothes, hats, instruments and food.
Charity: Our local operator sponsors two schools in the Matanzas Province. The first is the local Primary School in Playa Giron, where they have repainted the school and provided educational supplies such as notepads, pens and sporting equipment. The second school is the Special Needs School in Matanzas City. Here, they have made a number of donations- from school materials and clothes to fans and sheets. We discourage giving to beggars on the trip as we don’t want to encourage this behaviour. Instead, our guides will help visitors to donate presents and supplies where the goods can really be utilised.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.