By Roberto F. Campos FotosPL: Juan Muñoa
Havana, Nov 21 (Prensa Latina) Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said yesterday that the travel industry in this country is expecting a positive high season (November-April) despite problems and pressures.
He pointed out this has been a complicated year due to the tightening of Washington’s restrictive measures against Havana, from a commercial, economic and financial point of view.
Such measures have intensified since June 5, when the Donald Trump government banned US cruise travel to the island.
Despite this, the island is set to see growth of more than 10 percent in tourist arrivals this high season.
Marrero noted that Cuba is expected to welcome 4.3 million international visitors by the end of the year, which would represent an increase of about 1.6 percent compared to last year, in addition to increasing revenues.
Among Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) to boost the sector plans are further offers of excursions and the search for new airlines to operate flights to the island.
The minister noted that two major UK travel agencies operating with Cuba, Holiday Place and Thomas Cook, recently declared bankruptcy, the latter the oldest of its kind in the world. Between the two, they sent 95,000 Brits to the island each year.
He stressed that alternatives are now being sought with other new British tour operators, which do not yet operate in the Caribbean. In addition, he noted the growing interest in China in visiting this country.
Mintur maintains its investments, repairing hotels and building others, with a further 4,000 rooms completed so far this year (the island has more than 70,000), a figure which is set to reach 4,200 by 2020.
The leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro, created the National Institute of Tourism Industry (INIT) 60 years ago, on November 20, 1959, and assumed its leadership along with his duties as prime minister. Marrero recalled that from the very beginning of the Revolution, its leaders were dedicated to promoting this sector and developing areas that even today stand out for their beauty.
Over time, INIT became the National Tourism Institute (November 30, 1976) until April 21, 1994, when it became the current Ministry of Tourism.
Marrero highlighted the figure of Fidel Castro in the development of this sector and in the most recent plans to strengthen it. During a ceremony held yesterday, a photographic exhibition was inaugurated that covers the history of this industry.