Cuba's Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos Garcia Granda, hosted a luncheon in Toronto on Tuesday, 14MAR, to provide an update travel media on new initiatives and thank Canada's travel industry for its support. Canada is the country's top tourism market.
Accompanying the Minister were Ambassador Yanier Castellano, consul general of Cuba in Toronto, Pilar Alvarez Azze, Marketing Director MINTUR, Hector Igarza, Cuba's ambassador to Canada, Lessner Gomez, Director Cuba Tourist Board and Nieves Ricardo, Marketing Cuba Tourist Board.
At the gathering at Cibo Wine Bar, Garcia Granda said that 2022 was the first year Cuba fully opened its doors to tourism post-pandemic. The tourism "Unica" Campaign launched in JUN, 2022 to highlight Cuban attractions "beyond the beach" and the welcoming warmth of the Cuban people.
Garcia Granda said this year looks good for the winter travel season, with tourism up to 80 per cent of 2019 levels, with Canadians making up 80 per cent of that number.
Garcia Granda also revealed Cuba is now - for the first time - encouraging foreign retail investment. As a result, visitors may see name-brand companies appear in Cuba by the end of the year.
New Initiatives and Updates
Since reopening in 2022, Cuba's hotel infrastructure has seen some updating and renovations, including the implementation of included wifi beyond the lobbies of some properties.
The country's private sector, from small to medium-sized businesses, has been growing and providing services. And in much-welcomed news, the country's supply chain has also improved.
Access to convenient, online tourist visas are expected to be available in late OCT.
Cuba is also improving its sustainability practices in the tourism sector, with a focus on plastic use and recycling.
To encourage visitors to explore more than just the sun and beaches of Cuba, tour operators are being encouraged to share "escorted tour" options along with destination packages. These can be pre-booked before leaving Canada.
Cuba's Tourism officials revealed new focus areas for growth, including:
- Cultural Heritage exploration, including cities like Trinidad and Baracoa (the oldest Spanish settlement in Cuba and its first capital).
- Wellness Travel. Visitors can book programs with specialized operators in Cuba via their travel agents.
- Younger Canadians, with an emphasis on adventure travel, bike tours, diving and active exploration. Programs will be available for booking in Canada.
- MICE: Cuba wants the meetings and incentives business to leverage its beautiful weather, resorts and beaches.