Havana Biennial: An opportunity for people to people exchange

In the middle of the process towards the restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States and the long transit waiting towards normalization, coveted by most of both peoples, the twelfth edition of the Havana Biennial, which initiates the coming May 22 is displayed as a unique opportunity for Americans to visit the “forbidden” island and see firsthand its idiosyncrasies, desires, concerns and deepest feelings, expressed through art.

The Biennial, as the name suggests, opens its doors every two years, but its organizers opted to postpone the edition corresponding to 2014 for this year, which ultimately resulted in the greatest chance for cultural exchange between two neighboring nations with historic ties in the field, frozen for more than half a century.

Insight Cuba, the leading organization of people to people travel, only to allow Americans of the 12 categories approved by the State Department to come to Cuba, now without having to go through a cumbersome process to obtain a special license company OFAC will not miss the opportunity and already is celebrating the Biennale with the launch of three special tours to enjoy art at the Biennale.

Exclusive to OnCuba Tom Popper, president of the company, said that from his perspective Havana captivates visitors naturally, but you can never enjoy forefront of their “vibrant” culture as in the Biennale.

For this reason, Insight has organized three tours seven days and six nights for Americans “want to embark on the most impressive cultural trip”. In each tour, participants can enjoy the creations of renowned Cuban artists, exclusive performances and presentations from all art forms.

This is the third time the company brings Americans to the event. Among the activities defined a priori for the three groups of visitors on this occasion, explained Popper, highlights a visit to ceramic community project José Fuster in Jaimanita; a meeting with students and professors of the School Workshop Gaspar Melchor in Jovellanos, to learn about his work in preserving and restoring the architectural heritage of Cuba, particularly in the historic center of the capital; and visits to the Superior Institute of Art, the National Museum of Fine Arts, among others.

Beyond the Biennale

Exchange with Tom Popper was also useful to know in a more generic sense, besides the Biennial the interest of Americans to visit Cuba. As he confessed, since the announcement by President Obama on December 17 and subsequent measures in his company there has been no rest and activity has been developed to unprecedented levels.

“These are historic times for many reasons. For the first time in over 50 years normalizing US-Cuba it seems more and more a reality, and our audience certainly thinks that, “he said.

The web traffic in Insight Cuba in these times six times the usual, the inquiries from potential customers have quadrupled and weekly bookings triple the statistics for the previous year. As irrefutable evidence of the increase, this month the company sent to Cuba the largest group of Americans in its 15 year history.

Asked about his experience on the possibility that rates of visits citizens of his country to the island continue to rise, Popper claimed that for the coming high season of tourism, as in previous ones, the hotel capacities could be a problem, they are not sufficient.

However, he considered that the US weather turns warm while the high season winds down, so there are many opportunities to visit Cuba before December 2015, when the rise in tourism demand restarts.

For Popper, Cuba is a destination all year round. “It is true that it is very hot in summer but then so is New York. There are fewer tourists at that stage it provides an opportunity for Americans to get best places to stay, so that’s the best time to visit the island, “he said.

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