The received wisdom has it that we should be hurrying to Cuba before the hordes of tourists defile the place and it loses its charm.

I'm leaning the other way. Give the place a few years, let the locals get used to dealing with hordes of visitors and then head over. I like good food, I like to have a comfy bed in my hotel and I like infrastructure that works.

A mate was in Cuba a couple of years ago.

"We wanted to get there before Fidel Castro died," said my pal.


"It was great. The old cars. The cigars. The cool people.

"But there was so much about the place that was just plain difficult. You couldn't buy a stamp for your postcard unless the stamp shop was open. Simple things like food and gas were hard to purchase. Restaurants were scarce and the food was terrible. Like, really terrible. And it was actually pretty tough moving around."

Emilio Morales, of Miami-based Havana Consulting Group (HCG) concurs. Cuba's tourist infrastructure is "at its peak capacity", he says. "The impact has been not only in the lodging capacity, but it's also hit logistics, transportation, the distribution of food and other items that are needed to attend to hundreds of thousands of visitors."

An HCG report detected "scarcity of products that are critical in attending to not only the tourist market, but to domestic consumers", including chicken and Cuban beer.

No fried chicken and no beer?

• Congratulations are in order for two lucky winners this week. First up is the Valley family of Half Moon Bay, Auckland, who have won a holiday to Fitzroy Island, Tropical North Queensland, thanks to Tourism and Events Queensland and House of Travel. The prize is worth up to $7000. And the winner of our travel photo competition, is Natasha Coleman, whose image of a Vietnamese woman from Hoi An appears on p31. Natasha wins a brand new Fujifilm X-T10 camera valued at $1699. Well done!