The Other Side of the Cuba Story: Tourism Stakeholders asking for Canadian Travel Professionals to Sign Letter to Cuba Tourism Minister

This week, Open Jaw published a statement issued by the government of Cuba. For the record, you can read it again below.

There are two sides to every story. Overseas stakeholders in Cuba’s tourism sector want to present a different side of the story, and they’re asking other travel professionals to join them and sign the following letter to the minister of Tourism of Cuba.

A link to the letter and online sign up can be found by clicking here: https://openletter-cuba.travel/ 

An open letter to the Minister of Tourism of Cuba, from stakeholders in Cuba’s tourism sector

Dear Minister,
We, the undersigned, are involved with promoting our beloved Cuba to the world. In doing so, we treasure its people, its culture, its history and the island’s natural beauty. Together we have brought more than 1 million visitors from 100+ countries to Cuba.

Each of us has suffered the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in our personal and professional lives. As we travel down the road of recovery we face many challenges, and in addressing these challenges we are securing the future of our industry.

The images of violence coming out of Cuba last week stand in stark contrast with the images that the tourism sector usually promotes of Cuba. In front of landmark sites and in remote villages, people have been arbitrarily detained and their voices silenced by a government who, directly or indirectly, is also a business partner.

Whilst in the past many of us have struggled with the laws and regulations that denied Cuban and American tourists certain rights (ie Cubans not allowed to stay at hotels, Americans not allowed to visit Cuba), we feel we must now send a clear public message, as other sectors and personalities have done.

As stakeholders in Cuba’s tourism sector we must come together and respect one another based on values which apply to both visitors and local citizens alike.

That’s why we say:
NO!
To violence
To arbitrary arrests and detentions
To US Embargo
To lies and disinformation

SÍ!
To dialogue
To freedom of expression
To unrestricted access to the internet
To the truth
To unrestricted travel when Covid-19 conditions allow, including US travellers

Signed by:

  • Eddie Lubbers
    Cuba Travel Network, The Netherlands
  • Karel Pérez Alejo
    Okori Digital, The Netherlands
  • Monica Kemmere
    The Netherlands
  • Michael Sykes
    Cuba Cultural Travel, USA
  • AJ Leon
    Misfit, United Kingdom
  • Rainer Klee
    AERTiCKET GmbH, Germany
  • IJede van der Kooij
    Cuba Travel Network, Curacao
  • José Luis Herrera
    Thruads, USA
  • Reinder Hartholt
    The Netherlands

Here is the government of Cuba’s earlier statement in full:

“Cuba moves forward with the vaccination process against Covid, strengthens its health and safety protocols and ratifies that foreign visitors will continue to enjoy peace and safety.

On Sunday, July 11, in certain parts of Cuba some disturbances and incidents took place. These were the result of an opportunistic plan designed from the outside, at a time when the country is working hard to overcome the impact of the pandemic, despite the unprecedented tightening of the economic blockade imposed by the U.S. government against the Cuban people.

The incidents were stimulated and accompanied by a fierce campaign that was articulated mainly through social networks, with the purpose of discrediting and distorting the Cuban reality with fake news and manipulated images.

Cuba is fighting hard against the COVID-19 pandemic and, despite the recent outbreak, has achieved a case fatality rate of 0.65 per cent, one of the lowest in the world. It already has its own vaccine, ABDALA, the first developed in Latin America, as well as four other vaccine candidates with high efficacy rates.  The first clinical trial has begun for the pediatric population with the vaccine candidate SOBERANA 02.

At the present moment, more than 8 million doses have been administered, including tourism workers who have already been vaccinated in Havana and Varadero, and the second dose is being applied in Jardines del Rey.

To continue guaranteeing the health and safety of visitors and workers, the protocols established by the country have been strengthened in all facilities and services of the tourism sector.

All the institutions continue to function normally even under pandemic conditions.

We ratify that all tourists, including Canadian citizens who are in Cuba, enjoy total security and safety, and enjoy their vacations on our beautiful beaches.

Cuba will continue to be a tourist destination of peace, health, and safety.”

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