14ymedio, Madrid, 23 March 2023 — The updated recommendations of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs for tourists going to Cuba, released this week, are not very encouraging for the promotion of tourism. Despite the fact that the official website indicates that “there are no specific restrictions” for trips to the Island, it dictates “special precaution regarding possible thefts from tourists, dengue disease and the hurricane season.”
The most relevant novelty is the warning that, if a Spaniard intends to go to the United States after having visited Cuba, even if it is on a separate trip, he will be obliged to apply for a U.S. visa to enter that country. Therefore, the presentation of the electronic authorization (ESTA), the simple requirement in force under normal conditions, will not be enough.
Likewise, tourists to Cuba have to apply and pay for the “tourist card” that serves as a visa, either at a Cuban consulate in Spain, or at any travel agency that offers Cuba as a destination. This visa “allows a single entry into Cuba and entitles the holder to a maximum stay of 90 days, extendable only once for the same period.”
The Island’s fame as a peaceful place for foreigners is beginning to collapse with these recommendations. Spain concedes that Cuba is “generally a safe destination, especially when compared to most of the countries in the region,” but warns that “with the recovery of tourism, robberies have been reported that can sometimes be committed through the use of violence.”
The document describes as “frequent” the “theft of bags and other personal belongings on the beaches” and mentions that “burglaries can occur at gas stations, mostly in cases of rented vehicles with ’T’ (tourist) plates and on the roads to the Keys.”
The Ministry advises against picking up hitchhikers in any case, “especially outside the cities or near the beaches.”
Another common problem on the Island mentioned in the report is that of health. “Health care in Cuba is not comparable to European standards,” the text states. “There may be a shortage of certain medicines and a lack of equipment in hospitals.” For those who need a specific medication, they suggest “taking it with you and not to trust being able to find it on the Island,” as well as “a minimum first aid kit (analgesic, disinfectant, dressings, etc.) and, in the current circumstances, medications necessary to treat diseases with high incidence in the country.”
Health recommendations continue to warn of the cost of medical care for foreigners: “In the most important cities, tourists are cared for in the best hospital centers. The invoice must be paid in cash, at high prices and, frequently, in advance.”
The document even mentions what those exclusive centers are: the Cira García Clinic and the CIMEQ Hospital, in Havana. And they warn: “The Cuban authorities prohibit foreigners from leaving the country as long as there is an outstanding debt for health care.”
It will be mandatory, they also instruct Spaniards, to present proof “of having taken out travel insurance with medical coverage that includes possible contagion by COVID-19 and the repatriation of the corpse in case of death regardless of the cause.”
Another serious warning is about “the important rebound” of dengue fever and, especially, of hemorrhagic dengue, for which they recommend using insect repellent on the skin “especially at dawn, dusk and during the night.”
Given the risk of contracting this disease, they suggest traveling with oral rehydration salts and paracetamol.
As for the measures against COVID-19, the page includes the link that leads to the health form that must be completed to enter Cuba, with a QR code downloaded, and to remember that no negative PCR is required, no vaccination certificate, no quarantine upon arrival and no masks (except in hospital centers).
Finally, they warn that the hurricane season begins on June 1 and ends on November 30 and specify that the “most problematic period” usually occurs between August and October, coinciding precisely with the summer holiday season of the Spanish people.
“The Cuban authorities will, if necessary, evacuate the affected areas, and depending on how the hurricane evolves, they will adopt measures as needed. In such circumstances, all Spanish citizens who are in Cuba are recommended to follow the recommendations of the Civil Defense, which are widely disseminated by the Cuban media (mainly radio and television) and by the hotels where they are staying, as well as the tourist agencies that have organized the trips,” they say, while referring, for more information, to the page of the National Hurricane Center of the United States.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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