By Desmond Boylan
The variety of options and price range for vacationing in Cuba, for either Cubans or foreigners, is vast. Let’s take the average Cuban family, with an income of roughly $20 (500 pesos) per month from the husband and around $10 from the wife. Summer comes and they need a break with their two children.
For the equivalent of $5 (120 pesos), this family can have a short, three-day break in a popular campismo, or rural cabin for four people in a natural park or near the sea, with round trip transportation included. Conditions are spartan and unsophisticated, but clean and agreeable. Obviously the Cuban state is not making a profit on this and subsidizes the cost to make it possible for average people to enjoy a holiday. Average still means the vast majority of Cubans, as in this communist economy there are still few incomes above or below the mean.
At one campismo I asked if foreigners were allowed to pay the same $5 for a stay, and the person in charge, Arelis, answered, “Of course everyone now is welcome. Before, only Cubans were allowed, but now anyone can enjoy these facilities.”
Five dollars is the cost of two coffees in any five-star hotel in Havana or in many hotels around the world. In Cuba it is also enough to pay for a three-day vacation for a family of four people in a tropical destination. At the same time, it is also possible to pay several hundred dollars for one night in some 5-star all inclusive beach resorts in Cuba’s premier resort, Varadero.
There are other mid-priced options, but the majority of Cubans opt to spend the day on the beach, traveling back and forth from home each day during their vacation. That’s the easiest and cheapest solution for them. Campismos are overbooked and other lodging is not affordable.