In “More luxury tourism: “Paying for Havana what Havana deserves,” Eric Caraballoso (OnCuba) writes about the recent FITCuba 2017 conference held earlier this month (May 3-6) at the Playa Pesquero Hotel, to the north of Holguín, Cuba. Here are excerpts:
[. . .] Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero’s adddress began a bit before 11:00 in the morning. It was the inaugural conference, which concluded with the formality of “officially inaugurating FITCuba 2017,” the 37th edition of the fair and the first held in eastern Cuba. [. . .]
The Cuban minister was accompanied by Mrs. Amgard Wippler, representative of the German government. The fair was dedicated to Germany, and Marrero as well as Wippler mentioned the increase of German tourism to the island: more than 242,000 visitors in 2016, Europe’s first issuing market to Cuba, with a 38 percent growth.
Before businesspeople, agents, tour operators and around a hundred accredited journalists, Marrero insisted on the perspectives of Cuban tourism. He spoke of expansion, of development, of potentials that have an impact on the island’s economy. He resorted to the irrefutable statistics: four million visitors that must be surpassed this year; North America, with a static Canada but with a growing United States, made up 45 percent of the total travelers; a 95 percent general satisfaction and a 41 percent index of repeat stays.
But the figures don’t stop there, there are the quantified facts that the minister announced as good news: more than 400 programs for circuit tourism, a modality that FITCuba 2017 highlighted and that the island aims to strengthen among its tourist offers. More than 100 projects for new foreign administration associations and contracts. The plan, he insisted, is to diversify even more the Cuban tourist product and to expand the presence of major international chains, which decades ago was heresy.
Times change, Marrero seemed to be telling the skeptics, and tourism is the spearhead. And to prove this he spoke of 25 joint ventures, of 19 foreign managements, of 82 signed contracts, of 41,000 rooms, 62 percent of the country’s hotel capacity, managed by these associations. [. . .]
[Photo above: Prado and Neptuno, Old Havana: Credit: Jeff Cotner.]