Cuba Reaches Four Million Tourists, Moves Forward

The Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) reported on Saturday that Cuba has reached four million foreign visitors so far in 2018, news that tour operators and travel agents welcomed.

The MINTUR notes that the figure of four million international visitors was reached only four days after the date it was reached last year.

These results are obtained in spite of the media campaigns to discredit Cuban tourism and amid the measures of intensification of the blockade against Cuba by the Government of the United States,

Cuba, the text recalls, is the only country in the world to which U.S. citizens cannot travel freely as tourists (because of a U.S. law).

The note also highlighted that this Tourist Destination stands out for its safety, for the hospitality of the people and for the natural and cultural attributes, as well as for the preservation and beauty of the beaches.

The MINTUR statement concluded that growth is planned for the remainder of the quarter, which will allow exceeding the figure reached the previous year.

There is a tourism development plan for 2030, there would be 100,000 rooms by that date (in all of Cuba) when the biggest weight is executed with limited own resources, but also prioritizes foreign investment in the country.

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Cuba Prepares Program for 40 Years of Havanatur

Havana, Aug 14 (Prensa Latina) A tourist familiarization program (MegaFam) is being prepared by the authorities in this country on occasion of the 40th anniversary of the International Tour Operators and Travel Agencies Group, Havanatur S.A., it was officially reported today.

A statement from that company known today states that as a continuation of its strategy to make Cuba an unparalleled destination with Havanatur, the company's directors propose such a tour of the country.

Havanatur now presents through all its agencies the call and promotional image associated with MegaFam 2018, the fourth major event of its kind to be held on the island, now on September 21-28.

In order to know and update the product in this destination, up to this day, about 350 travel agents from more than 15 countries have confirmed their assistance to this event.

The statement revealed that such a tour aims to disseminate seminars to the sales network, and show the development of the Cuban tourist product in the destinations where Havanatur currently brings together its largest operations.

This action is facing the 2018-2019 winter, and the 2019 summer, with details already existing in the sales catalogs of their agencies, they insisted.

As part of the programs, it is foreseen that this familiarization program will travel to the country's west and center region, extending the trips to the northern keys of Villa Clara.

That presentation will take place on September 27 in the framework of the celebrations for the World Tourism Day.

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U.S. Citizens Take Strong Interest in Cuba

HAVANA.- The influx of U.S. tourists to Cuba is one of the topics that draws much attention from journalists specialized in tourist issues, as evidenced at a meeting recently held here.

As stated by professor Paolo Spadoni, of the Augusta University (Georgia, USA), if restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba were lifted, about 3.5 million of them would visit the island.

Spadoni addressed about 65 communicators -mainly from Latin America - present at the 13th International Journalism and Tourism Seminar, held from June 25 to 29.

The meeting, held at Havana's José Martí International Journalism Institute, gathered representatives from 12 nations, including the host country.

During his talk, the U.S. professor noted that over one million U.S. visitors could come to the island in the short term if the travel restrictions imposed by the government of president Donald Trump were lifted.

His lecture, entitled "The Impact of the new measures taken by the current U.S. government on tourism in the Caribbean,' dealt with topics that went from the actions taken by former U.S. president Barack Obama to the intensification of Trump's measures against Cuba, and its impact on the Caribbean region.

The specialist opened his talk by analyzing the start of the normalization process between the United States and Cuba, on December 17, 2014. In this sense, he referred to the changes made by Obama in relation to the economic sanctions, and the subsequent 'warming of the thaw'.

He also talked about the development of international tourism in Cuba, the business possibilities for both countries and the impact of the measures taken by Trump, which intensified the restrictions Washington has imposed on Havana for over 50 years.

Spadoni recalled that Cuba's main economic source of income in the first half of the 1990s was the sugarcane industry, and then tourism, to which the provision of professional services is now added.

He stressed that tourism continues to be an important source of liquidity and reserve.

The professor also mentioned that Canada is Cuba's first issuing market - 1,134,225 visitors came last year- followed by the United States -more than one million including Cubans who reside in the U.S. This data show the potential Cuba has for the U.S. visitors.

The measures taken by Obama eased the U.S. restrictions on travel, remittances, trade, investment, bank and financial operations, among others.

However, these measures didn't have a chance to attain much progress in practice, because of Trump's restrictions.

Nonetheless, the 12-category measure is still in force for those who want to come to Cuba from the United States, while the number of cruise ships continues to increase, the expert said.

The seminar also dealt with issues related to the country's heritage, technology and tourism, the hotel business and other topics of interest.

The Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) General Manager for Development, José Daniel Alonso, referred to topics related to the sector and stated his confidence on receiving 4.7 million foreign visitors by the end of 2018 - a figure reached in 2017.

Communicators from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico and the United States attended the meeting, in addition to the host country.

After three days of theoretical sessions and talks, the participants toured tourist places in Havana and facilities of Varadero resort.

The 14th edition of the seminar, to take place in late June 2019, is expected to welcome a higher number of Cuban and foreign press.

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New Markets Open Up to Promote Tourism in Cuba

Havana, Jul 14 (Prensa Latina) With the opening of new markets to promote tourism, the different private businesses in Cuba today increase their possibilities, according to official reports.

A report on the initiative called Merca-Hostales points to two new establishments for these purposes, particularly for people who operate cheap hotels and need to make certain purchases for their proper functioning.

This issue was addressed during the enlistment phase for the inauguration of the so-called Merca-Hostales in the eastern Cuban province of Holguin and in the Ciego de Avila plant.

It is all about new facilities for sales of necessary products destined to the feeding and working of the of cheap hotels and restaurants' private operators.

The director of the Empresa Comercializadora de Productos Agropecuarios (Agricultural Products Marketing Company), Juan Carlos Rodriguez, told Cuban News Agency that this type of proposal can even increase retail sales and reinforce supply options.

During this month a Merca-Hostal will open its doors in Holguin and in August another one in Ciego de Avila, he said.

Among the products that are marketed, he mentioned citrus fruits, vegetables, root vegetables, grains, juices, jams, pre-fried potatoes, tomato puree, preserved candies, and apicultural nutritional supplements.

Reports from the Cuban Ministry of Tourism note that the non-state (private) sector has 2,152 restaurants and 23,185 rooms in private houses throughout the country.

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Growing Investments in Cuban Tourism (PART IV)

Havana, Jul 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's investment process in tourism covers many aspects to diversify the offer beyond sun and beach options.

That is why, the general director for development at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Jose Daniel Alonso, considers other spheres of interest.

The variety of options is broad, with the presence of the Spanish chain Meliá in the central-southern city of Cienfuegos and in neighboring Trinidad, where it will open the 350-room Meliá Trinidad Hotel, currently in the ground-breaking stage.

For its part, the Spanish group Iberostar will run the Ancon Trinidad Hotel, whose construction will start in October.

The list of real estate developments also includes the Trinidad Plaza, small hotels in heritage cities and for circuits, the boost of Viñales (since 2017 with a hotel in that city) and nature as a product in development.

The promotion of tourism in Gibara and the eastern city of Baracoa (the first village founded by the Spanish conquistadors in Cuba) is part of a big and well-designed program, consisting of large and small establishments in several destinations to facilitate circuit tourism.

The plans in the aforementioned cities, as well as in Sancti Spiritus and Camagüey, are carried out in conjunction with prestigious companies like Meliá and Iberostar.

Alonso also referred to the beginning of operations in Cuba by the French chain Louvre Hotel.

Foreign investments in Cuban tourism will also target camping sites, a favorite option for Cuban families. Operations in this sector will involve firms from Italy and France, which are already assessing the works.

The Cuban official added theme and aquatic parks to the list of investments. In Varadero, a German group will build two of those facilities, while in Havana, studies are under way for the construction of an aquatic park.

In mid-2018, Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero pointed out that 17 cruise companies with 25 ships operate in the country, and in the first semester of this year, that modality grew 28.6 percent.

Moreover, 70 airlines fly to Cuba from 73 major cities of the world, there are 27 joint ventures that run more than 5,000 hotel rooms, and 21 hotel managements. The plan also includes four joint ventures in real estate and golf courses.

The portfolio of investments consists of 140 projects, plus 2,152 private restaurants (known as 'paladares') and 23,185 rooms in inns, all of which function under the auspices of the MINTUR.

According to executives, those statistics show trust in Cuban tourism, in the country's security and, above all, in its people's kindness.

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Growing Investments in Cuban Tourism (PART III)

Havana, Jul 13 (Prensa Latina) The information on the investment process in Cuban tourism includes an increase in 2018 that will make the country be among the main Caribbean destinations.

The general director for development at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Jose Daniel Alonso, disclosed statistics that illustrate that growth in the leisure industry.

One of the examples of growth is in cruise tourism and the arrivals of holidaymakers in that modality.

Even in November 2018, he noted, there is a possibility that a new U.S. cruise line might join the others visiting Cuba, despite the restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

One of the basic ideas in that regard is that Havana becomes the Port of Call for that kind of travel, as happens with the ship MSC Opera.

Cuban authorities are also promoting nautical activities in ports run by Marina Darsena in Varadero and the marina in Santiago de Cuba. On July 27, a hotel will be inaugurated in the Segundo Frente region, a mountainous area near the city of Santiago de Cuba, to promote nature tourism.

Authorities are aware of the importance of the so-called Tarea Vida (Task Life), which is aimed at preserving the environment, as part of a plan in conjunction with the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), including the recovery and improvement of several beaches.

In that direction, sand has been poured in Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria to improve the ecological systems in those resorts.

The investment process also includes health tourism and the improvement of the quality of life, which will give a particular boost through partners in Turkey who are looking for places with thermal waters and the rescue of medicinal spas like Elguea, Lagos de Mayajigua and San Diego.

Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero said that the country's hotels offer 69,041 rooms, including 63 percent in four- and five-star establishments and 74 percent by the beach.

Cuba has 110,415 workers in the tourism sector, 41.2 percent of whom are women and 48 percent are under 45 years of age.

Last year, the island received 4,689,896 foreign visitors, accounting for an increase of 11.6 percent, although in the eight first months of 2017, tourist arrivals rose 26 percent, but Hurricane Irma reduced the flow of holidaymakers in September.

The fastest-growing tourist-sending markets were the United States, Russia, Italy and France. Canada ranks in the first place with 1,134,225 vacationers, while Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom are recovering their positions as tourist-sending markets.

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Construction of Hotel Meliá Trinidad Starts in Central Cuba

The construction of the 400-room Hotel Meliá Trinidad, scheduled for inauguration in 2020, started today in the central Cuban province of Sancti Spiritus, tourist authorities confirmed.

The communiqué from Meliá Cuba pointed out that the hotel is being built after a contract was signed at the 12th Fecons Construction Fair, held last week in Havana.

The group noted that the Hotel Meliá Trinidad, owned by the joint venture Toscuba, will be built on Maria Aguilar Beach, on Cuba's south coast.

The three-story building will have an exclusive floor that will be called The Level.

The establishment will have modern rooms, swimming pool and exceptional restoration options for adults and families, Meliá Cuba added.

Other amenities are a fitness center with a gymnasium and a massage parlor. It will also have areas for weddings, events and conventions.

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Dranguet House: attractive and indispensable destination in the Coffee Route (+Photos)

The value and transcendence of Santiago de Cuba’s Dranguet House makes the institution an indispensable destination in the so-called Ruta del Café (Coffee Route), an attractive Cuban tourist product that is promoted worldwide today.

Last Wednesday, French journalists, photographers, tour operators and other specialists linked to tourism industry knew about the wealth it collects in its permanent showroom, which some call “Coffee Museum”. They were visiting the place to see at first hand the potential attraction this institution may have in the European market.

Dranguet House suggested the visitors the specialized guide where the history of coffee is explained, ranging from its arrival in America and Cuba, the large number of the crop-related edges, processing and tasting of the aromatic grain, until reaching a newly opened room that exhibits the different ways to prepare the famous beverage, among the most consumed ones in the world.

The visitors highly praised all the culture linked to coffee, which covers craftwork, Cuban traditions, such as handmade processing (roasting, shelling and filtering in the coffee sock) and the old machines that are already obsolete worldwide, but constitute irrefutable evidence of the transcendence of this grain in different nations.

Coffee cultivation has linked Cuba and France for several centuries now, a bond that reaches us today through an international project called “Los Caminos del Café” (Coffee Roads), financed by the European Union, the French-Belgian Molongo Foundation and Santiago de Cuba City Historian’s Office, which has enabled the restoration of both the Dranguet House and the old “La Fraternidad” Coffee Farm.

PhD in Science Yaumara López Segrera, Coordinator on the Cuban side of “Los Caminos del Café”, claimed that the works in that old settlement not only will benefit those rural communities based on the precepts of responsible tourism development, but also will become an attractive proposal, because the site will be a living museum, which parallely will exhibit the cultivation and processing of the aromatic grain in its modern and old-fashioned ways.

López also explained that thanks to “Los Caminos del Café” project Santiago de Cuba City has today an institution that shows, in the broadest possible way, how attractive coffee is and its links with the industry, arts and agriculture.

As part of their tour, the French visitors not only will come closer to “Coffee Route”, but will also get to know the attractions of “La Ruta del Cacao” (Cacao Route), journey that will take them to such destinations as Baracoa, Bayamo, Gibara, etc.

The mountainous geography of Santiago de Cuba has great part of the traces of the Haitian-French immigration of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, a legacy that translates into old farms, which are both World Heritage sites and attractions for visitors, since they show the splendor of a time in the Caribbean and a cultural heritage that is combined, in addition, with the attractive nature of the area and the numerous traditions, thus making up a tourist product of one-of-a-kind characteristics.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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