Cuba: "New and Improved" in Time for Winter Sun Travel

Cuba tourist board, Nieves Ricardo & Karen Puebla with agents
Cuba tourist board, Nieves Ricardo & Karen Puebla with agents

The Cuba Tourist Board hosted about 200 travel advisors and industry executives for "Cuba Unica Night" at Le Treport Weddings and Convention Center in Toronto on 20OCT 2022 to update the industry on the "new and improved" Cuba: the island’s new advertising campaign, new travel App, new Travel Cuba specialist program, new destinations, more flights, and elevated services.

The night included a trade show, where advisors received firsthand information from all major Canadian tour operators, airlines, and hotel partners representatives, followed by dinner/presentation and entertainment provided by a Cuban band “Cuba Salsa” who delighted the attendees with the traditional Cuban rhythms and danced the night away.

Cuba Salsa
Cuba Salsa

Lessner Gomez, director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto thanked all the travel community for their support and told the audience that the number of Canadian arrivals in Cuba this year are increasing, totaling to this date 340,876 Canadians and it’s expected that this winter performance would be similar to the winter 2019.

Gomez also offered the following updates:

  • A new Swoop flight from YYZ to VRA starting JAN 2023
  • Cuba lifted all COVID-19 travel restrictions early this year, and everything is "back to normal" including excursions and night entertainment.

Additionally, Gomez said Cuba used the last two years to improve its tourism infrastructure, enhance the services and make progress in the supply chain. One of the biggest improvements is WiFi and internet service around the island. At the moment, Cuba Tourist Board reports that over 347 hotels are offering free WiFi connections in their lobby and swimming pool areas, and many of them are offering the free WiFi in the hotel rooms as well. Most of the airport VIP sections have free WiFi connection. "It’s likely that 100% internet connectivity will be reached by the end of 2023," Gomez said.

Gomez also updated advisors on the currency exchanges on the island. Cuba has removed the circulation of CUC and facilitating payments at resort areas via Debit or Visa Credit cards (not cash). Clients without credit cards can buy pre-paid cards in Cuba which can be bought at most hotels and tourist establishments. The official currency is the Cuban peso (CUP) which tourists only need if they go outside of the tourist zones, in that case, they can exchange their Canadian dollars into CUP at airports, banks, hotels and exchange bureaus (CADECAS).

Gomez also highlighted the new web site aiming to facilitate passengers’ arrival in Cuba where travellers can fill out the custom declaration form and the health affidavit 48 hours ahead of their arrival, intended to speed up the arrivals process at the airport. Its Tourist card is still handed out on board the plane.

New Openings

This winter season, the island will offer new destinations and new hotel openings in different areas across the country, among them:

  • Holguin: El Tesoro del Atlantico Hotel by Gaviota Hotel Group will be the first resort to open in a new destination called "El Ramon de Antilla Peninsula;" an area with secluded beaches and proximity to the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park as well as the natural protected areas of Pinares de Mayari and Cayo Saetia.
  • Jardines del Rey area (served by CCC): Gran Aston Paredon Hotel by Aston Hotels. This is a new island that just opened between Cayo Coco and Cayo Cruz, about half hour from CCC, where clients can enjoy the beach, ambiance and water sports.
  • Havana – The Mystique Regis Havana by Royalton Hotels
  • Varadero - Sol Caribe Beach by Melia Cuba Hotels
  • Trinidad Cuba, at Ancon beach, the Melia Trinidad Peninsula, by Melia Cuba Hotels.
  • On 04NOV, an improved Cayo Largo destination will reopen for the Canadian Market. Blue Diamond Resorts will manage all the hotels here, which will be fully renovated and ready for the winter season. Cayo Largo offers beaches and water sports including snorkeling from ashore, fishing, scuba diving to enjoy coral reef and wrecks, catamaran cruises and more. For clients who would like to see more of Cuba and visit mainland, there are excursions to Havana which is a 35-minute flight away.

Cuba Travel Specialist Certification

Another big announcement of the night was the upcoming Cuba Travel Specialist certification, taking place in 2023, and providing these benefits:

  • Certificate of graduation as a Cuba Specialist given by the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba
  • VIP on arrivals and departures at all airports in Cuba
  • VIP invitation to most FAM trips by Cuba Tourist Board
  • Free upgrade at all hotels in Cuba
  • Discount on local excursions while visiting Cuba
  • Annual recognition of the top seller to Cuba with one-week all-inclusive vacation prize
  • Top seller agents will be listed at

New App

Another announcement was a new tourism App which is projected to be released at the end of 2022. The app is intended to be a tourist guide that travel consultants and clients can use to find more local information on the different destinations in Cuba, build their itinerary and make tour, hotel, and other services reservations.

New Marketing Campaign

Additionally, a new marketing campaign will be released at the end of this year - UNICA CUBA - which aims to highlight the country’s "uniqueness, its distinctive culture, history and traditions, beaches, nature, and safety but more importantly the exceptionality of its people."

For more information on the Cuba Tourist Board, visit its web site.

Transat's Susan Kooiman with agents
Transat's Susan Kooiman with agents
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