The Guardian calls Gibara, Cuba's best-kept secret
Lydia Bell of the UK's Guardian newspaper recently shared her experience holidaying in the little-known town of Gibara in Cuba. For those hoping to experience Cuba without swarms of tourists this is the ideal destination. A visit in April means you can enjoy one of the best Latin American Film Festivals, but Gibara offers an unforgettable experience all year round.
The island of Cuba continues to captivate the imaginations of travellers and industry insiders alike. As Cuba's tourism goes from strength to strength, the world continues to look on with keen interest, with many tourists hoping to experience the island before it becomes overrun with tourists and large hotel chains, as has been the case with some of its Caribbean counterparts.
Already Cuba is attracting more and more holidaymakers each year, recently announcing visitor numbers of more than a million in the first four months of 2014 alone. There are however still places that are off the beaten path as Lydia Bell of the UK's Guardian newspaper recently discovered.
Ms Bell raved about her holiday experience in the town of Gibara, pegging it as an unforgettable experience for anyone hoping to experience something a little less ordinary. Gibara is located in south-east Cuba, past the well-known town of Holguin. This isolated town has retained the charm and mystique that attracts many people to Cuba holidays, and is best known for its annual Indie film festival: Festival International del Cine Pobre. At the 2014 festival, 47 films were shown at the local cinema. The event, first launched in 2003 by Humberto Solas, brings Gibara to life with everything from intellectual chats at the Casa de la Cultura to outdoor parties, street food stalls, live comedy and, of course, dancing.
Aside from the Indie Film Festival each April, there is plenty to experience in the town, with the opportunity to go diving in the "Tanque Azul de Caletones" or explore the nearby valleys and cave-filled limestone hills. Those who are keen to experience Cuba's rich history and culture can visit the Museo de Arte Colonial or the Museo de Historia Natural. You only need to ask around and the locals will happily point you to a number of vitrales - where people welcome you openly into their homes. While Havana is the most popular stomping ground for international visitors, those who prefer more tailor-made holidays will certainly enjoy what Gibara has to offer.
Key tourism markets for Cuba include Canada, Germany, UK, France and Italy. While its Caribbean counterparts are struggling to boost arrival figures, Cuba is bucking the trend, recently announcing 1,282,734 international visitors between January and April. This is a sharp increase on the 60,804 visitors received in the same period last year.
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