The following Cuba series was written by students enrolled in Independent Study: Cuban Hospitality and Tourism Industries, a one-week intensive course taking place in Cuba over the 2016 Spring Break. As a course assignment, students were required to submit blog posts to the Tisch Center Blog highlighting each day of the trip. The following post was written by Yasha Arifin & Danielle Savarese.
Friday, March 18th was our first full day in Trinidad. We were given free time in the morning to roam around the quaint town of Trinidad, admiring pastel colored houses, immersing ourselves in the strong sense of community while making our way to the open air market to scout for souvenirs. The market offered an array of traditional goods that were all reasonably priced. I managed to buy a few shirts and accessories at very good prices. Interacting with local vendors and familiarizing ourselves with traditional Cuban arts and crafts was one of the most memorable encounters of the trip.
After a couple of hours in the market, we hopped on the bus and made our way to Sr. Julio Munoz’s farm, which was only a few minutes away from the city center. We were served traditional Cuban lunch and drinks, while discussing about his farm, suggestions for his future business, and how to maximize its tourism potential. After a delicious hearty lunch, we were given the opportunity to horseback ride around Sr. Munoz’s farm and then made our way back to our casas to prepare for an afternoon presentation at the Iberostar Hotel.
Each group was assigned a different topic to present to a group of entrepreneurs, restaurant owners, hoteliers, and locals. The setting was in a function room of the Iberostar Hotel and each of us discussed our presentation, solely focusing on the SWOT analysis. As the setting was fit for Q and A, I believe that all participants had quite an educational experience, obtaining firsthand insights from one another, which was an added value for us since the major obstacle while putting the presentation together was valid information. We ended our presentation with a group picture, then headed over for dinner at beautiful restaurant that offered a variety of international dishes. During dinner, we had the chance to speak to the owner of the restaurant about how he started his business, the inspiration behind his international menu, and the future of his restaurant. From what I gathered about restaurant owners in Cuba, is that they are very optimistic. Regardless of TripAdvisor rankings and whatnot, they strive to succeed in the industry, which is comforting to see, knowing Cuba’s economic state and lack of supplies.
After dinner, we ended the night at a salsa club, where everyone was dancing the night away, and the coexistence of locals and tourists truly shined.