Video: Cuba is Divers’ Paradise

Cuba is promoting tourism by opening up several areas to tourists for diving expeditions.

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Cuba is hoping that eco-tourism will attract American tourists to its shores, bringing in much needed currency and jobs - if travel restrictions for US citizens are ever lifted.

The remote Peninsula of Guanahacabibes, where a land and marine reserve encompasses some 200 square miles (518 square kilometres) on Cuba’s westernmost tip, is home to pristine coral beds teeming with a colourful variety of fish.

Divers from around the world already visited the reserve, which juts out into the Caribbean about 135 miles (217 kilometres) north-west of Havana, but some feared the area would not be ready to cater to US tourists.

It’s not going to be the bells and whistles that most Americans are expecting, they like all the bells and whistles when they travel, but it’s going to be for the people that know that this is the way Europeans travel, not the way Americans travel
— Tony Dorland, diver from Chicago

Some of the best preserved coral reefs in the world await those who brave the tortuous 5-hour drive it takes to get to Maria La Gorda from Havana. A lack of agricultural run-off, little coastal development and protected waters, have spared Cuba’s reefs the destruction so common around the Caribbean and off American shores.

It’s a draw Cuban authorities hope will translate into greater numbers of American visitors once they are able to legally visit the country. Manuel Mons, the marketing manager for state-run travel agency Gaviota Tours, says Cuba is uniquely suited to eco-tourism because of its lack of development and strong environmental laws.

However, he admits that improvements in infrastructure are needed to deal with the anticipated growing numbers of American tourists, eager to experience a once forbidden destination so close to the United States.

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