Cuba: Ready For A Successful 2023 Winter Season
The Cuba Tourist Board hosted some 200 travel advisors and industry executives at Le Treport Weddings and Convention Center in Toronto last week, providing them with an update on the new and improved Cuba: the island’s new advertising campaign, new travel App, new Travel Cuba specialist program, new destinations, more flights, and elevated services.
The evening included a trade show, where the travel advisors could get firsthand information from all major Canadian tour operators, airlines, and hotel partners representatives; followed by dinner/presentation and entertainment provided by a Cuban band “Cuba Salsa” who delighted the attendees with the traditional Cuban rhythms and danced the night away.
Lessner Gomez, director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto thanked all the travel community for their support and told the audience that the number of Canadian arrivals in Cuba this year are increasing, totalling to date 340,876 Canadians and it’s expected that this winter performance would be similar to the winter 2019.
He also offered the following updates:
- There will be a new Swoop flight from Toronto to Varadero starting January 2023
- Cuba lifted all COVID Travel restrictions early this year, so everything is back to normal including excursions and night entertainment, everything is open and fully operational.
- Cuba used the last two years, to improve the tourist infrastructure, to enhance the services and to make progress in the supply chain. One of the biggest improvements is the Wi Fi and internet service around the island. At this moment over 347 hotels are offering free WIFI connection at their lobby and swimming pool areas, many of them are offering the free WIFI in the hotel rooms as well. Most of the airports VIP sections have free WIFI connection. It’s likely that 100% internet connectivity will be reached by the end of 2023.
Gomez, also updated on the currency changes in the island, where they took out of circulation the CUC and now, they are offering conveniences to make payment at the resort areas with Debit or Visa Credit cards (no cash).
Clients who have no credit cards can buy pre-paid cards in Cuba which can be bought at most hotels and tourist establishments.
The official currency is the Cuban peso (CUP) which tourists only need if they go outside of the tourist zones, in that case, they can exchange their Canadian dollars into CUP at the airports, banks, hotels and exchange houses (CADECAS).
Gomez also highlighted the new website — www.dviajeros.mitrans.gob.cu — that aims to facilitate the passengers’ arrival in Cuba where travellers can fill out the custom declaration form and the health affidavit 48 hours ahead of their arrival which will speed up the process at the airport.
The Tourist card is still given on board of the airplane.
This winter season, the island will offer new destinations and new hotel openings in different areas across the country, among them:
- In Holguin: El Tesoro del Atlantico Hotel by Gaviota Hotel Group, this will be the first resort to open in a brand-new destination called ‘El Ramon de Antilla Peninsula”; an area that pride itself for their secluded beaches and the proximity to the Alejandro de Humboldt National Park, and natural protected areas of Pinares de Mayari and Cayo Saetia.
- In Jardines del Rey area (served by Cayo Coco airport): Gran Aston Paredon Hotel by Aston Hotels. This is a brand-new island that just opened, nestled between Cayo Coco and Cayo Cruz, about half hour from Cayo Coco airport, where clients can enjoy that pristine, spectacular beach that Cuba is known for, laidback ambiance and water sports.
- In Havana – The Mystique Regis Havana by Royalton Hotels
- In Varadero – Sol Caribe Beach by Melia Cuba Hotels
- In Trinidad Cuba, at Ancon beach, the Melia Trinidad Peninsula, by Melia Cuba Hotels.
- On Nov. 4, an improved Cayo Largo destination will reopen for the Canadian Market. Blue Diamond Resorts will manage all the hotels and they will be fully renovated and ready for the winter season. Cayo largo is known for the most beautiful beaches in Cuba, it also offers all kind of water sports including snorkeling from ashore, fishing, scuba diving to enjoy coral reef and wrecks, catamaran cruises and much more. For clients who would like to see more of Cuba and visit mainland there are excursions to Havana which is only a 35-minute flight away.
Another big announcement of the evening was the upcoming Cuba Travel Specialist certification, taking place in 2023, travel advisors that successfully finish the program can enjoy the following benefits:
- Certificate of graduation as a Cuba Specialist given by the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba
- VIP on arrivals and departures at all airports in Cuba
- VIP invitation to most FAM TRIP by Cuba Tourist Board
- Free upgrade at all hotels in Cuba
- Discount on local excursions while visiting Cuba
- Annual recognition to the top seller to Cuba with one-week all-inclusive vacation prize
- Top sellers Agents will be listed at www.gocuba.ca
Another revelation was the new and exciting App which is projected to be released at the end of 2022, this app is a tourist guide that travel consultants and clients can use to find more local information on the different destinations in Cuba, they can build their itinerary, make reservations of tours, hotels, and others services, directly through this application.
Additionally, a new marketing campaign will be released at the end of this year: UNICA CUBA which taps into the country’s uniqueness, its distinctive culture, history and traditions, beaches, nature, and safety but more importantly the exceptionality of its people. The Cuban people are the ones who make Cuba … UNICA
Gomez observed: “The country is emerging better and improved, modern, and sustainable, ready to receive Canadians for another successful winter season.”