This content was published on January 19, 2023 – 5:28 PM January 19, 2023 – 5:28 PM
Madrid, 19 January (EFE).- Cuba has set itself the target of reaching 3.5 million international tourists in 2023, as its Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García Granda said in an interview with EFE on Thursday. The target is very high, but despite the “limitations” the island has, they are working to make it happen.
García Granda is leading his country’s delegation in Madrid at the International Tourism Fair (Fitur), which is taking place from this Wednesday to Sunday and from which he hopes to reach agreements that will help Cuba reach pre-pandemic visitor levels.
The tourism outlook for 2022 was far from the forecast of 2.5 million visitors to the Caribbean island, acknowledged by the minister, who put the total at about 1.7 million.
Last year “was the year of full reopening (due to the pandemic) from April, when the high season for tourism in Cuba was already over,” García Granda recalled.
“As is almost always the case, we had set ourselves a difficult goal, because tourism plays a fundamental role in the Cuban economy,” admitted the minister, but he still considers the number achieved to be “a good result”.
For this year “we have set ourselves an equally difficult target, with 3.5 million tourists. Our country is prepared for the more than 4 million that it has always had lately, like the other countries that want to reach the figures of 2019 , before the pandemic”.
Although he pointed out that in the case of Cuba it was more complicated because of “all the restrictions that we have in the world’s largest emissions market, our natural market, the United States, which is forbidden to visit our country because of the blockade. “
And for this reason “we must go to other markets, such as Europe, where there are also measures that are harmful to the good development of tourism, such as the ban on the use of the ESTA document – with which one can travel United States without a visa – if you visit the country.
“And despite this scenario, we will not stop working to reach the target of 3.5 million. From what we saw at this show, it’s an achievable goal,” he stressed.
MORE AIRLINES WITH A FOCUS ON LATIN AMERICA
García Granda pointed out that one of the goals is to increase the number of tourists visiting Cuba by integrating more airlines, although 55 airlines already serve the island, ie about “600 flights”.
From Europe, via Fitur, “there is commitment and planning from almost all airlines to restore the schedules they had in 2019,” he said.
However, Cuba’s main destination is Latin America, “because we have an air capacity that arrives, but it’s not ideal because the occupancy rate is less than 50%.”
“Even on the airlines to the United States. And I think that’s a market that we’re attractive to and that’s what we’re going to focus on,” he added.
The Caribbean country’s tourist base is sun and sand, but García Granda recalls that the island is also culture, nature and heritage, “to the point that the New York Times recently recommended us as a 2023 destination has “.
However, he emphasizes that Cuba’s greatest strength is the Cuban people, which is why the campaign in Fitur is called “Cuba Única”.
Another strength, as a complement to tourist activity, is private activity, “which is now growing in small and medium-sized businesses and can contribute to the quality of services”.
“For the first time, the country is opening up to foreign investment in wholesale and retail trade. We can dream of customers from higher-class markets,” says the minister.
Among regular tourists, Cuba has had a significant number of Russian visitors, which has been declining since the “conflict” with Ukraine began.
“The Russian market is essential for us. It’s not a lot, but we have ten 14-day flights. We want to gain more self-confidence,” said García Granda.
They will also work to attract other countries, including the United States: “We are open to the American people. We don’t work with a country because of its nationality, we offer ourselves so that all the countries of the world enjoy a unique destiny.” as our campaign says.” EFE
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