Golf holidays to become an attraction for travel to Cuba
Travellers seeking golf holidays in Cuba may soon find an increase in the number of golf courses available in the region as the Tourism Ministry announce that it is hoping to build ten new courses around the country and help bring golf back to Cuba.
At present, travellers on golf holidays in Cuba can only enjoy the facilities of the Varadero golf course in a beach resort located 137 kilometres east of the country's capital city, Havana, and a seven-hole course in the capital. The government of Cuba are now recognising that by re-introducing golf into the country, it could attract more travellers on Cuba holidays to stay in the countryside as well as in the main cities or coastal resorts, which will lead to a boost in tourism.
The 18-hole course at the Varadero Golf Club played host to two one-day pro-am tournaments recently which features Cuban golfers paired up with wealthy foreigners.Organisers of the event said that this was a small step in a campaign to bring back golf to Cuba after the sport was almost entirely eliminated from the island by the communist government over 48 years ago.
Before Castro came into power, there were approximately 12 high end golf courses in Cuba but the Varadero Golf Club is the only course to be built since Castro's revolution. Many of the existing golf courses were then made into military zones and camps and even a music and dance academy.
The Tourism Ministry have announced that they would like to build ten new courses around the island to attract travellers taking golf holidays in Cuba from Canada, Europe and even the U.S if the trade-embargo is finally lifted by Washington. A number of investors from Europe and Canada have shown interest in constructing golf courses together with luxury accommodation and health spas in Cuba but plans are slow to move forward.
A senior policy analyst at the U.S Economic Trade Council in New York, who advises U.S businesses on trade with Cuba, John Kavulich, said:
"The conflict is imagery versus profit. Concerns are about the image of golfers in the worker's paradise. And, if accepted, how does Granma (the Communist Party newspaper) explain the obese U.S. golfer with poor clothing colour co-ordination, running about in their 'Caddyshack' like golf cart, betting on each hole?"
Officials believe that travellers will still take golf holidays in Cuba despite the state of the world's economy. General Manager of Varadero Golf Club, Jose Tovar said:
"You've got a cigar and you are playing golf with the beach right there. It's perfect."
However, Tovar believes that Cuba can not afford to build any new golf courses especially as it is a globally popular sport. "From a golf course, it's a different view of our country, maybe it's not so cultural," he said. "But it's still Cuba."
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