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Cuban tourism authorities are inviting tourists to experience sun, sand, sea — and salsa.
Those authorities hope to convince tour operators that send Canadians to Cuba on beach vacations to show those sun-seekers other sides to the Caribbean country during their holidays, with the country’s tourism minister saying there can be many aspects to a stay in his homeland.
“One of the strengths [of Cuba] is that we’re more than sun and beach,” Juan Carlos Garcia Granda said during a March 14 Toronto visit.
Authorities are wanting more tourists to combine beach vacations with escorted itineraries that explore other parts of Cuba.
Garcia Granda said there are many aspects to Cuba that tourists can appreciate.
“The cultural heritage is second to none,” Garcia Granda said of a country that has given the world several expressions of music and dance, including salsa.
But Garcia Granda also added that Cuba has intriguing historic neighbourhoods, with the easternmost city of Baracoa among urban areas he cited as being a showcase for Cuban history.
He said the country is “blessed with amazing nature” and Cuban authorities are developing nature tours for visitors.
Cigar enthusiasts will also be in their element in Cuba, which he said is home to the “best tobacco leaves in the world.”
Cuban tourism is in a recovery mode after being hit hard by the pandemic, with Garcia Granda predicting that this will be “an excellent year” for Canadian visitations to Cuba.
“In 2022, we were able to advance the tourist industry and that gave us opportunities to get ready for this winter, which has been pretty good.”
The first three months of this year saw Cuba host over a million visitors.
The minister welcomed new air service to Cuba from this country, with Canada-Cuba flights seeing a “high load factor.”
Garcia Granda identified a number of positive developments for Cuban tourism, noting authorities are working on making tourist visas digital, and hoping that all such visas will e digital by October.
As well, a large number of hotel rooms on the island have recently been renovated and Cuba is improving internet access.
Cuba’s tourist infrastructure is also seeing an expanding private sector.
Garcia Granda reported his country is negotiating with foreign companies to ease the shipment of supplies to Cuba, with progress expected to be made on that this year.
“We’re hoping Canadians can have a Tim Horton’s in Cuba,” he said.
Cuba will again be showcasing its tourist trade at annual tourism show FitCuba, which will this year run from May 1-6. The show will be held in Havana and underscore historical and cultural attractions in that city.