We recently came across the article on Tripadvisor’s Canada site (hence the slightly different spelling of certain words), regarding travel to Cuba. It’s an interesting and thought provoking read, and certainly will make you reflect on your own travel practices in other countries you may have visited, and the impact that tourism as a major part of any nation’s economy has on its people. We posted the introduction below with a link to the full article on Tripadvisor.
Cuba Traveller Article:
Cuba: Think before you gift
This article is designed to help you to understand the damage that random gift giving is doing. It is based on the knowledge and experience of several travellers who have made multiple trips to Cuba, often for extended periods of time.
The article is NOT intended to be a commentary on charitable donations, or the idea of giving gifts to family or friends. It is about the disruptive practice of tourists visiting a country and randomly handing out relatively useless gifts and trinkets to Cubans they do not know, or worse, handing out expensive presents at random – or to resort workers, who are already among the wealthiest of Cubans.
This practice of random gifting is based on the two main misconceptions about Cuba:
1. Most people seem to think that Cubans are poorer than they are (and have little idea who is poor and who is not in Cuba).
2. Cuba is a socialist country that does not conform to the international conception of a democracy (even though – contrary to popular belief – it does have its own version of elections)
These two things combined lead many tourists to act the way they do. Mostly out of misconceptions as to the Cuban reality. Few to none out of any desire to do harm. Many because they think they are doing good because they have personally seen the smile on the maid’s or child’s face.