Cuba attends Milan's International Tourism Stock BIT 2020

With its most varied tourist offers of nature, history, culture, health, event and hospitality of its people, Cuba is participating on Monday in the 40th edition of Milan's International Tourism Stock, BIT 2020.

The major event in Italy dedicated to showcasing the best offers of the local and global tourism market, dedicated to tour operators and with broad public participation, is open until Tuesday at the Fiera Milano City, in the Italian financial capital.

Madelen Pardo, Tourism adviser at the Cuban Embassy in Italy, told Prensa Latina some details about the large delegation from her country that attends the BIT that brings together more than 43,000 visitors, chaired by Barbara Cruz Rodriguez, director General of Marketing at the Ministry of Tourism.

The official stressed that Milan's BIT is the best scenario to attract Italian tourism and said that among the representatives of the sector in Cuba are the travel agencies Cubatur, Havanatur, Gaviota Tours and Cubana de Aviacion, along with the hotel chains Cubanacan, Gran Caribe, Gaviota and the Marlin Nauticas and Marinas Company.

The hotel chains associated with the Cuban tourism sector Iberostar, Barcelo, Melia, ACCOR and Blue Diamonds are also participating, she said.

During this Milan's BIT, we also call on its participants to join us in the celebration of the 40th edition of the International Tourism Fair, FitCuba 2020.

This year, FitCuba will take place from May 4 to 9, at Varadero resort in the Plaza America fairgrounds, this time Russia will participate as a guest country and the tourist product will be Sun and Beach destination.

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Cuban Economy: Challenges and Obstacles

Cuba urgently needs to develop its economy and to this purpose the worth of science is essential, as defined by Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez during the closure of the IV Ordinary Session of the National Assembly of People’s Power in its IX Legislature, last December.

The president numbered other challenges to improve the economic situation of the nation: “... we need greater productions, more diversity, and of better quality, with the added value of science and the links that should put us in a position to reduce imports and increase exports, in a sustainability structure at the height of the scientific knowledge and the proven skills of Cubans. We will defend the Economy and Budget Plan for 2020 approved in this session with this idea in mind”.

One of the ways to defend that Plan is from its origins. Therefore in the months of January and February, workers across the country, together with their unions, will what they have to do.

Summoned to these debates by the Workers Central Union of Cuba (CTC), workers in general analyze their potential, reserves, and possible obstacles to achieve the plan at their workplaces. “...achieving a better quality of life depends on all that. The first thing is to generate wealth and then distribute it”, commented on these debates the general secretary for the CTC, Ulises Guilarte De Nacimiento, who also urged:“ You have to listen to the proposals of the workers and have the capacity to make them real, giving themselves the chance to participate. ”

In his travels throughout the country, the Cuban president has repeated the challenges the national economy faces today, knowing that the territories have huge productive potentials, and convinced that Cuban’s creativity is proven in hundreds of solutions which are today applied in several economic fields.

But it’s paramount for the nation to unravel processes that affect the soar of economy. There are productive forces that can be released and revolutionize sectors like the food production, tourism, sugar, information technology, and communications, among others.

To boost all these forces, changes are needed, and that is precisely what the Cuban President has asked for.

In this 2020, Cuba will undergo an improvement in the business system, seeking to create conditions to put into practice issues already stated in the new Constitution of the Republic and in the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy, approved in the VI Congress of the Party.

Eliminating Restrains

Boosting and removing obstacles to the economy becomes complex in a country like Cuba, imprisoned by the strong blockade set by the U.S., with technological disadvantage and ways of organizing production far from the current productive environments where advanced technology, the workforce training, the permanent updating of CEOs and access to financial capital are part of the everyday life.

Since 2019 was not the year we hoped for, it proved that Cuba can move further and further in economic matters.

In that sense, Díaz-Canel Bermúdez has emphasized the 28 measures approved in 2019 for the improvement of the socialist state enterprise.

These include the creation of a financial institution that ensures working capital and allows the establishment of productive link structures.

The goals also promote the financing of micro investments that support the increase in short-term exports, as well as allowing entities to have a margin of foreign money in their incomes to assume investments, technologies, and other resources necessary for greater efforts.

All this rearrangement of the socialist business system includes relations with non-state forms of management. It will be necessary to keep creating conditions so they both coexist in an environment of mutual collaboration and eyeing the development of the nation.

Likewise, it’s necessary to define the system of relations between the state companies, 100% Cuban commercial companies, and foreign investment modalities, with the Mariel Special Development Zone.

In this regard, the idea is that companies can retain 50% of the currency from commercial operations with these entities, as specified in the measures.

The 28 guidelines referred to by the Cuban President also include the salary increase for workers, in truly interesting percentages that, in the end, should be reflected in an increased production.

The Chicken or the Egg

Analyzing the management of the Ministry of Work and Social Security, Díaz-Canel said: "How long will it take us to apply the salary increase in the budgeted sector?" And he argued: "... we’ve got ourselves stuck on the debate of what came first, the egg or the chicken."

And he also reflected: “We take a long time to make decisions, and that is a burden of bureaucracy. We don’t consistently implement all the variables to mobilize human resources, to which we must dedicate our thinking. ”

Human resources and wages are also included in the 28 points established as part of the improvement of the socialist state enterprise and the economic development of the nation.

Taking as starting point the fact that it’s the state sector which contributes the most to the economy, it’s clear the need to boost it, like the President stressed.

Tourism, the Big Engine

Despite the blockade and several hostile measures imposed by the Trump administration, tourism still steps forward, and investments in that sector continue, seeking to expand capacities in the main tourist sites. The goal is to reach 4 million 500 thousand visitors.

But the potential could be far greater considering that the global trend has changed with the access to new technologies.

At present hikers want to know places that other friends have already visited, or virgin spots, unexplored before. Social networks are largely responsible for marking the destinations of many tourists.

The Ministry of Tourism goal is to expand the availability of Internet connection in hotels which is a key element in such results.

In this regard, there’s still a lot to do. But the mere fact that tourists can have an Internet connection opens up new prospects for Cuba.

Likewise, the sun and beach tourist also wants to connect with the culture, enjoy good food, visit nightclubs ..., and thus city tourism follows the same trend.

But "Cuban tourism needs more efficiency" to rise to the standards of the most important tourism poles in the world.

This was highlighted by the Cuban President at a meeting of the development program of the Cuban tourism industry, in last July.

At the meeting it was stressed the need for quality in the execution of works and the meeting of datelines, as well as the decrease of imports by the Ministry of Tourism to save resources and improve procedures wherever possible.

Although tourism did not meet the revenues programmed for 2019, it was an engine within the Cuban economy, as the Cuban president has repeatedly acknowledged.

This sector will have crucial importance in 2020, as it has a large program of investments in hotels and infrastructure in all tourist centers of the nation, where city tourism and the interrelation of visitors with important centers that promote the Cuban culture has not been forgotten.

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More Cubans Living Abroad, Visiting

The Cuban tourism industry which some consider to be the most efficient of the harsh local economy is receiving significant support from Cubans living abroad and coming to the island.

There were 623,831 Cubans settled abroad their homeland who were visiting in 2019, according to official statistics released.

From this amount 552,816 came from the United States, according to a message on Twitter of the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodríguez.

The official saw in that result "evidence of the strengthening of ties of Cuba with its compatriots."

Around the announcement, the official media also stressed that the high statistics was attained despite the measures taken by the United States government in order to reduce the arrivals of tourists to Cuba.

The visits of Cubans residing abroad to their homeland have as main motive to meet with relatives and spend free time. Authorities also keep permanent contact with those citizens.

On the arrivals the director of Consular Affairs and Cuban Residents Abroad at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ernesto Soberón published that in the last six years more than three million Cubans living abroad entered the country.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel confirmed with a phrase that policy by saying that "we count on you. We are Cuba."

The official newspaper Granma described the visits thanks to an attitude of "commitment and activism" of more than 160 Cuban associations in 79 countries with whom "unbreakable ties" are strengthened.

With that objective was already announced a new La Nación y Emigración Conference next April.

In order to make the trips of Cubans living abroad to the island normal again, important changes took place in the Cuban rules and laws, including immigration reform seven years ago that even opened more doors to the so-called "repatriation".

Consequently, living behind an era during which ties of Cubans with much of their communication abroad were very complex based on ideological motivations.

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Cuba reaches the four million foreign visitors

Although Canada continues as the largest issuer of visitors to the Cuba, the rise of the so-called cultural and city tourism, the maintenance of the comfort and the excellence of the sun and beach tourism, are still attractive that make their way into the interest of hundreds of people across the globe.

Cuba reached the four million foreign visitors last Wednesday, despite the continued restrictions imposed by the government of Donald Trump, which directly affects that line of the national economy, as was announced in Twitter by Manuel Marrero Cruz, Cuban Minister of Tourism.

The intensification of the hostility of the economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States has been reflected in the elimination of the Cuban hotel facilities from the online search systems, the prohibition of the entry of cruise ships to the Cuban bays, as well as the reduction of the direct flights from US territory to Cuba.

However, last November, Marrero Cruz declared that, despite these difficulties, the tourism will not stop, because our government has maintained it as a priority for the investment projects, we will continue repairing hotels and building others, in order to finish about four thousand rooms this year, and another 4,200 will be operational by the 2020, he said.

Although Canada continues as the largest issuer of visitors to the Cuba, the rise of the so-called cultural and city tourism, the maintenance of the comfort and the excellence of the sun and beach tourism, are still attractive that make their way into the interest of hundreds of people across the globe.

Even though the application of the this policy prevents hundreds of people from that country from getting to know Cuba, it is appropriate to point out that there are several nations where there is a growing interest in Cuba.

This is the case of the Russian Federation, a country that contributed with 82 thousand 655 visitors in the first half of last year, however until August of the 2019, the figure amounts to 92 thousand 467; or Portugal, with an increase of 110% of the arrivals, and Argentina whose number of visitors amounts to eight thousand 939, refers the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).

In that sense, the appointment of a counselor for tourism in the early 2020 at the Cuban Embassy in Beijing and the declaration of the 2021, as the year of tourism exchange between China and Cuba, are part of the most important initiatives proposed to stimulate the visit of the Chinese people to the Island.

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Cuban tourism: one of the most affected sectors by US blockade

The Cuban authorities consider that one of the sectors most affected by the US economic blockade against this island is tourism, as reflected in an official report.

This opinion is corroborated by different aspects of the travel industry that, far from improving in these bilateral relations, get worse now, after almost 60 years of the US barriers that oppress the perspective of this nation.

Even on several occasions, the Cuban tourism minister, Manuel Marrero, recalled that Cuba the only country in the world that Americans have banned from traveling freely.

Therefore, the Cuba vs. Blockade Report contains details of that war that is increasingly making the island economy worse. The document is Cuba's report on Resolution 73/8 of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such text has as subtitle Need to end the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States of America against Cuba, will be presented to that international body in early November.

The report points out that these affectations against this country caused losses to Cuban tourism worth about 1,383 million dollars.

This document indicates in general that the evaluation is carried out from April 2018 to March 2019, when the effects of extraterritoriality of such pressures are increasingly appreciated.

In total, in all areas, these sanctions caused Cuba in the mentioned period losses in the order of four thousand 343.6 million dollars.

Just to name a few examples - the text emphasizes - the measure taken by Washington to eliminate general licenses for group-to-town group educational trips, aggravates the negative impact on the influx of Americans to the Island.

While the previous ban on travel from town to town on an individual basis, forced US travelers to visit Cuba under the sponsorship of an organization, the new measure completely suppresses the possibility of taking advantage of this category.

Although during the period there was an increase in the arrival of cruise passengers, the entrance of American visitors by air decreased by 28.6 percent.

This represented a decrease of 103,161 visitors compared to 2017 and had a negative impact on revenue collection.

The policy adopted as of June 5, 2019 by the United States government makes the situation much worse.

That policy comes to deny licenses to non-commercial aircraft and passenger and recreational vessels in temporary stay, including cruises to Cuba, which further damages US travel to the country, and revenues from this concept, reflects the text.

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Cuba to show tourist attractions at Top Resa Professionals Event

A large delegation from Cuba will present the island's attractions in the 41st edition of the IFTM Top Resa tourism professionals' show, scheduled for early October in this capital.

Around 30 people make up the Cuban group of managers and specialists of the sector, headed by Director of Communication of the Ministry of Tourism, Dulce María Sánchez, who will be at the event that will host the Porte de Versailles fairgrounds from October 1 to 4.

The main space in France for tourism development represents for Cuba an opportunity to disseminate its offers and approach local travel agencies, tour operators and airlines.

It also serves as scenario to share their experiences and actions in terms of diversification and improvement of service quality, in addition to the steps aimed at expanding their infrastructure.

Tourism is a strategic sector for Cuba, often called the locomotive of its economy, target of the strengthening of the blockade imposed by the United States for 60 years.

In a recent session of the People's Power National Assembly

(parliament), the minister of the sector, Manuel Marrero, addressed in Havana the impact of Washington's hostility on passenger access to the Caribbean island, a destination forbidden for citizens and American cruises, in the latter case by decision of the administration of President Donald Trump.

Similarly, Marrero reiterated the complaint about the sustained use of campaigns aimed at discrediting her.

According to the most recent report of the Cuban government on the effects of the blockade, from April 2018 to March 2019, the siege caused tourism damages for about 1 billion,383 million dollars, in areas related to travel, services, operations and logistics assurances.

The IFTM Top Resa show arouses great interest in professionals of the so-called smokeless industry, which explains why the 2018 edition attracted more than 34 thousand of them, about 1,700 brands, 160 destinations and hundreds of specialized journalists, figures that this year could be left behind.

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Cuban president officially inaugurates new hotel in Varadero

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel officially inaugurated the new, five-star Hotel Meliá Internacional Varadero, located at Cuba's most famous beach resort.

The hotel has 946 rooms and will become a hotel of excellence, according to the president's official Twitter account -- @PresidenciaCuba.

Last month, the Cuban Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero, described the opening of the installation as successful, which has several restaurants, cafes and swimming pools.

At the end of June, Cuba had a total of 72,965 hotel rooms, of which 2,081 have been built in 2019.  At the end of this year, the incorporation of 4,197 new rooms is planned.

Marrero reported that during the last session of the parliament -- the National Assembly of People's Power -- it was announced that Cuba hopes to attract more than 4.3 million visitors in 2019.

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Cruise lines sued in the US under law of blockade on Cuba

Five new lawsuits were filed Tuesday in the United States against three cruise lines (Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise and MSC Cruises) under Title III of the controversial Helms-Burton Law against Cuba.

The Seatrade Cruise News website reported that two plaintiffs took that legal step in the southern state of Florida, after a federal judge yesterday rejected a motion requested by another cruise company, Carnival Corp., to dismiss a lawsuit against it, also under Title III of the Helms-Burton Act.

Helms-Burton, which was approved by the US Congress in 1996, codifies the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by Washington against Cuba almost 60 years ago.

Although it entered into force at that time, all administrations since then suspended the application of the aforementioned title, which allows US nationals to sue those who 'traffic' with 'North American properties' on the Caribbean island.

Through this section, that the executive of the Republican Donald Trump decided to activate this year, there is the possibility of promoting legal actions against individuals and entities, including from third countries, that invest in Cuban territory in nationalized properties after the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959.

One of the plaintiffs of this Tuesday is Javier García, who also filed in May the aforementioned claim against Carnival Corp. and now takes a similar step against Norwegian Cruise and Royal Caribbean, on the grounds that he owns the port of the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba.

In addition, lawsuits were filed against Norwegian Cruise, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises on behalf of Havana Docks Corporation, a company belonging to Michael Behn that claims to be the 'legitimate owner of certain commercial real estate' in the Port of Havana.

Like Garcia, Havana Docks Corporation also filed a claim against Carnival Corp. on May 2, the same day the Trump administration allowed the activation of Title III as part of its hostile policies against Cuba.

This last cruise line asked Judge James Lawrence King to dismiss García Bengochea's claim, arguing that he had sufficient permission from the Treasury Department to do business in Cuba, but in his ruling yesterday the magistrate said that he was not persuaded.

The decision of the US Government to allow the application of Title III occurred despite the fact that numerous voices inside and outside the United States condemned this resurgent action of the blockade, which is mainly aimed at depriving the Caribbean country of foreign investment.

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