Cuba Tourism Opens Up on the Whole Island Except the Capital

The three-star Hotel Porto Santo, in Baracoa, is one of those that will open to national tourism on July 1.

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14ymedio, Havana, June 29, 2020 – On July 1, only some three-star hotels will open and in no case will inhabitants of Havana be able to reserve them yet. So tourism will start again on the Island after three months of being paralyzed by the Covid-19 epidemic.

With the provinces entering the first stage of the de-escalation, some tourist businesses have started to sell their services. But, if you’re from the capital, where reopening still hasn’t begun, you can’t even make a reservation.

For example, Gaviota, part of the Gaesa military consortium, has already begun offering packages for national tourism in some hotels, the majority of them three stars. The higher-range facilities are available only to foreigners.

“Today I read that now they opened Varadero and you can reserve in some hotels, but if you’re from Havana, you still don’t qualify,” Lidia Domínguez, a resident of the municipality of Playa, told 14ymedio via Messenger.

“For the opening of tourism to the internal market, Cuban citizens and resident foreigners in the country can stay at the hotel Porto Santo in Baracoa, Villa Pinares de Mayari in Holguín, Villa Gaviota Santiago and the Tourist Complex Topes de Collantes,” the press official said.

According to Trip Advisor, these hotels are described as “middle range,” and most of them receive the worst scores from clients.

Gaviota clarifies that the rest of the hotels and destinations “will begin operations gradually based on demand and the epidemiological conditions of the country.”

Cubanacán also announced this weekend that 13 of its three-star installations already have offers available for the Cuban public, among them Los Jazmines and the hotel Rancho San Vicente, in Pinar del Río; the hotel Caracol and Gran Club Santa Lucía in Camagüey; Atlántico Guardalavaca in Holguín and the Versalles and Brisas del Mar in Santiago de Cuba.

It also explained that restarting operations for international tourism will occur only in the second phase, and only in zones like Cayo Largo, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Cruz and Cayo Santa María, all with high-range hotels.

Foreign tourists won’t be able in this stage to do city tourism, so they will have to limit their stay to the environment on the key where they find lodging. The information doesn’t clarify whether their family, friends or next of kin, or Cuban residents abroad who stay on the keys would have the possibility of going to visit those guest houses.

The residents of Matanzas already entered the first post-pandemic phase on Tuesday, and they can go the beach in Varadero, according to Ivis Fernández Peña, a delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in this region. “You always have to maintain the physical distance required,” warned the official.

In addition, he said that sales in the reservation bureaus will begin this Wednesday for Islazul and Gran Caribe in Varadero. He also pointed out that only when the demand of clients reaches 60% capacity, will others open, but gradually.

The president of Islazul, Rasiel Tovar, told the press last Tuesday that reservations can be made at points of sale and also on Islazul’s web page.

“We’ve been waiting for this news for some time at home, but we still don’t think we can reserve in any hotel, because none of our favorites are available right now. So we’re all going to Varadero to spend the day with the family on the beach,” Janet Meneses told 14ymedio from Matanzas.

“You have to take advantage now because when people from Havana can come it will be full of  buses so that weekends will bring hundreds of people to spend the day and everything will be full. Here they said that you have to keep a distance, but I still don’t know how they’re going to accomplish this,” she added.

The Government issued the order to close its borders and most tourism services since March 24, with the goal of minimizing the entry of coronavirus cases to the country.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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