Cuba Will Seek to Attract More International Visitors Through Ecotourism

The authorities inaugurated the XIII International Nature Tourism Event on Tuesday in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE/14ymedio, Havana, 21 September 2022 — This Tuesday, in Havana, the Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero inaugurated the XIII International Nature Tourism Event, which will aim to diversify offers for tourists on the Island.

The event, suspended for two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will be attended by personalities from 19 countries, as well as different tour operators, according to the organizers. The purpose, they pointed out, will be to promote ecological and adventure destinations in the country.

In that sense, Marrero pointed out that Cuba must leave behind the image of being only a “sun and beach” destination and that, to achieve this, it will have to “continue to promote” other formats, such as ecological tourism. “We still have to improve in many things,” he admitted.

The Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos García Granda, pointed out that the country is concentrating “all its energy to recover” the levels of pre-pandemic international visitors and that ecotourism is a “global trend” that will help reach that goal.

The Government has set itself the goal of reaching 2.5 million visitors this year, and although Marrero himself questioned the possibility of achieving it this May, he has finally ended up joining the official discourse and believes it is feasible to reach the projection.

According to the latest available figures, the number of foreign travelers reached 834,891 visitors as of July, leaving 1,665,000 to be achieved for the last five months of the year.

Looking at the first half of the year, the comparison with respect to 2021 is a growth of almost 500%, but the number translated into 682,297 travelers. In 2019, by that date, 2.6 million people had already arrived in Cuba to spend their holidays.

During his speech, Marrero denounced the “media campaigns” against tourism on the Island, alluding to the constant criticism of the Cuban diaspora against the opening of the sector.

“Why is it that campaigns against Cuban tourism are unleashed every now and then? (…) Isn’t that what the development of tourism in this country promises to break precisely with the blockade and this crisis?” he asked.

However, from the very pages of the official media, the readers and sympathizers of the Communist Party themselves are reproaching the Government for continuing to invest strongly in the same sector — which also isn’t experiencing its best moments in terms of visitors — while the population lacks light and food.

“Currently, the occupancy rate of our tourist facilities is around 14%. Meanwhile, we continue to build new hotels, instead of investing in energy, road and agricultural infrastructure,” lamented a commentator last week in Cubadebate.

According to data published by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information, a third of the State’s investments during the first semester went to business services, real estate and rental activities, which include hotels and tourism, totaling  31.7 billion pesos.

Meanwhile, only 830 million pesos were dedicated to agriculture, livestock and forestry, and 225 million to fishing.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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