Havana Times reports that Cuba’s most important tourist beaches reopened yesterday (October 15) to international visitors in Varadero. The article underlines that the government hopes to reactivate this key economic sector after a nearly six-month closure.
Regular and charter flights are authorized to all of Cuba’s international airports except for Havana. Flights to the capital will remain closed at least until October 31. On that date, the airline company Condor is due to launch three weekly flights to Varadero. Authorities say foreign visitors will be tested for the coronavirus and that hotels will have medical staff.
Tourism contributes about 10% of Cuba’s GDP and employs some 500,000 people in the state tourism sector. Most hotels are owned by the military conglomerate.
In 2019, the number of tourists coming to the island dropped by 9 per cent, to about 4.2 million people, due partly to US restrictions on visits by its citizens.
The Cuban Health Ministry says it has recorded 6,062 coronavirus infections and 123 deaths. Upon relaxing the initially tough restrictions, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said Cubans must “learn to live with the virus.”