Celebrating 70 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations between Canada and Cuba – not to mention a record 1.3 million visitors from Canada last year – the Cuba Tourist Board held an industry luncheon yesterday (April 26) to clear the air on misconceptions surrounding current Cuba-US relations.
Eloy Govea, director, Cuba Tourist Board, Canada, said Canada represents more than 40% of the island’s arrivals, is its number one market and will remain so in the future.
“This is a golden opportunity for us to get the message out that Cuba will remain loyal to our friends,” said Govea. “We’re here to clear the air and show how important Canada is to Cuba.”
So much so that that Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism will recognize Canada as its “Guest of Honour” at the upcoming FitCuba 2016 show, taking place in Havana from May 3-7, its biggest tourism event of the year.
Govea stressed that the US embargo on Cuba remains in place, as well as 12 categories of travel under which US citizens can travel to Cuba, none of them being tourism. He added that 70% of Americans visiting Cuba go to Havana, as compared to only 1% of Canadians.
He added that Americans’ motivations for travelling to Cuba are completely different than that of Canadians, who mostly visit for leisure purposes.
“There’s only 35 million Canadians, how can we see a million of them each year?” asked Govea. “Every single year they surprise us.”
He added that despite the positive numbers, there’s still opportunities for growth from Canada with increased lift, destinations like Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria becoming increasingly popular and the large number of non-Canadian travellers making use of Canadian airlines’ services.
“Canada is a springboard to Cuba for travellers from the UK, Germany, etc. even the US,” he said.
Govea added that tourism is the “locomotive of our economy” and if the US embargo is ever lifted it will only enhance the tourism product.
In the photo above, pictured (l-r) are the Cuba Tourist Board’s Nieves Ricardo, Karen Puebla, Govea and Lisbet Soberat.
In the photo below, Govea with Javier Domokos Ruiz, consul general of Cuba.