Ever since changes in government regulations opened up travel opportunities to Cuba for United States citizens, the country has been a prime destination on bucket lists. The country's rich history and vibrant culture have enticed travelers searching for authentic experiences.
Yet travel restrictions still limit opportunities for U.S. citizens, and those restrictions can throw a wrench into your clients' travel hopes and plans.
Cuba is still an excellent destination for groups, but travel within the country is unpredictable. Until the day travelers can move more freely through Cuba, Austin Adventures identified alternative destinations with comparable culture and activities.
Hanging out on a Cuban beach doesn't meet U.S. requirements for travel to the country. Consider instead Belize, which has plenty of sandy beaches and coastline for swimming, snorkeling and sailing. The Belize Barrier Reef is the second-largest coral reef system in the world, and there are hundreds of sites for travelers to marvel at the kaleidoscope of colors, schools of fish, turtles, barracuda and more while snorkeling.
If your travelers are enticed by Havana's nightlife, Colombia's Bogotá never sleeps. "La Rumba" best describes the city's nightlife—a Caribbean term that suggests fun-filled nights to the sound of the beat of each traveler's liking. From live music and karaoke featuring music of every type to quiet and romantic nights, evening entertainment can be found across the city.
Croatia's food culture is infused with flavors from a variety of influences, such as Italian, Austrian, Hungarian and Turkish. Travelers will find olive oil, wine, seafood and other delicacies, including the Croatian specialty ćevapčiči.
If the promise of Cuban cigars lures your travelers, consider Nicaragua—home of the Oliva Cigar. Melanio Oliva first grew tobacco in Cuba in 1886, and generations continued the practice until pressure from the government forced Gilberto Oliva, Melanio's grandson, to Nicaragua. Today, Gilberto and his family are Nicaragua's second-largest grower of Cuban-seed tobacco.
As do Cubans, Peruvians express a fascinating culture through music, dance, clothing and celebrations. Peru has been recognized by UNESCO for 10 world heritage sites, including Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, and Peruvians have not forgotten their roots.
Cuba may be famous for rum-based libations, but Scotland is famous for whisky. The country boasts 100 active distilleries across five whisky regions, with many offering fascinating tours and opportunities for travelers to learn how it's made.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today. Information and photo courtesy of Austin Adventures.