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Posted November 18, 2007 by publisher in Cuba Vacation

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For the fourth year in a row, Cuba is expecting to receive more than 2 million tourists this year 2007, which confirms that the island is one the most important tourist destinations in the Caribbean.

Cuba’s tourism deputy minister Maria Elena Lopez said that most of Cuba’s tourism markets are expected to grow by the end of this period. Lopez talked about the development of tourism in the island at the second session of the 18th French Travel Agencies Association (AFAT-VOYAGES)Congress underway in Hotel Playa Pesquero, which has the highest number of rooms (944) in the country.

The minister noted that besides the well-known quality of Cuba’s beaches and its nature, foreign visitors have showed increased interest in the history and culture of the island. More than 500 tourism experts are attending the Congress seeking to learn more about the island. The event could lead to a boost in the number of French visitors to Cuba, said Jean Pierre Mas president of Gala Agency.

As part of the activity program, participants in the event enjoyed a beach show named El alma de Cuba (Cuba’s Soul) in Cayo Bariay, located in the eastern province of Holguin, which has became the third tourist destination in the country. AFAT-VOYAGES was created in 1988. It includes more than 600 points of sale and is considered as the premier travel agencies network in France.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on November 18, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Two million tourists a year is a very good number but why is the number flat for four years? Perhaps because of the low return rate?

    I guess Communist and hospitality are two words that don’t go well together?

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  2. Follow up post #2 added on November 18, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    when I was there recently, I was talking to one of the tour company’s local reps, and he was lamenting that the trend is to the low end packages where there is almost no money being made.
    One keeps hearing complaints about the high end hotels, where a Cuban 5* can’t come close to a Mexican 5* for example.
    He felt that the little being made on low end packages is ruinous to the industry (A good example was my package. 2 weeks all incl incl flight from Toronto at a 2 * at the Playas del Este just outside Havana for $761 end price. (Flight alone would have cost just over $ 800)

  3. Follow up post #3 added on November 18, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Travel and tourism is all about marketing and propaganda might work for the first trip.

    Do you stay in the government hotels or the casas particulares?

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  4. Follow up post #4 added on November 18, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    i generally stay in low end (2 *) governement hotels, both in Varadero and in Playas del este that have 90% Cuban guests. Stayed in CP in one of my outtings tho (to city of Trinidad).
    Only reason I stay in governement hotels is that I can get a 2 week all incl package that includes flight if I watch for last minute deals that are cheaper than flight alone - so why waste it.  (as i said above, this time stayed in the Hotel Tropicoco just outside of Havana for 2 weeks all incl (incl 24/7 bar, and free 2x a day shuttle bus into Havana) for $40.- less than cheapest flight alone I saw.

  5. Follow up post #5 added on November 18, 2007 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Something I can’t do easily from here in Massachusetts.

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  6. Follow up post #6 added on November 18, 2007 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    very true. Seems like cheapest last minute deals are from Toronto, but periodically I see even better deals from Montreal.
    Also nice to have a boss who will go along with me finalizing my vacation plans with only 1 or 2 days notice.
    And we wont even get into the political climate that allows Canadians to travel worry-free to Cuba.
    But am sure once the footwork is done that will allow Americans free travel to Cuba, you can be sure there will be charters from all over the northern (colder) states all winter long. Wonder how many resorts will remember the Canadians once Americans start pouring down with their money to spend…..

  7. Follow up post #7 added on November 19, 2007 by anders

    Having visited Havanna a handful of times, most major cities at least ones and toured the country a few as well I have visited luxuary hotels, 2*, Casas particulares, peoples living rooms, school doormatories as well as some secluded areas. All depending on where I was and the object of the travell. 

    I definitely agree standards and service vary enormously. Some people are very cautious and polite and a few staff employees couldn´t care less. A few cuban 5*hotels deserve the rating but most don´t.  At the moment I believe cubans do themselves more justice at low cost establishments. It could be a matter of class pride I recognize from my own culture.

    Should I judge everything from experiences from Casas Particulares in Baracoa I would say the obstacle is getting away without beeing married, staying at places with an official stamp on it having anybody at all treat you normally ( taxi drivers tell everybody where they picked you up ),  staying at expensive places avoiding becoming a wallet on two legs and staying in Varadero accepting the fact it will take time to convince some cubans you´re not a complete idiot.

    Manfredz choice actually seems like a blessing. 2* hotels in the outskirts, buses in Havanna and coconutcabs is about the only way to come up close aside from actually beeing a part of cuban families for a while or travel with a designated study group. Everyone will instantly know you are a tourist anyway but beeing plain and cool helps out immidiately. Ones experiences will naturally reflect ones strategies of travel.

    Low cost tourism has been increasing on Cuba for many years, I´m told. Many Europeans prefer that - for its social and cultural qualities and it makes you able to travel twice. Although, one is often spending more money at low cost trips because you do more things. So Cuba benefits as a society more from adventure travellers at 2* hotels than from lazy 5* beach boys. But the smaller flows of cash you spend daily have to be collected. This requires a “saving and loans system” and something worth saving for. 5* hotels give instant tax returns.

    They have been discussing this for many years, always actually. A dilemma is 5* hotels can be consentrated at specific areas thus lowering costs for infrastructure.
    The prefered low cost, ecological, culturally aware kind of tourism requires a lot of infrastructure investments. Domestic airlines, trains, railways and roads, busses all over the place, spredding of hostel capacities a s f…..

    No wonder Cuba finds itself in a dilemma as far as tourism is concerned. The present revenues are also supposed to pay for other types of investments. As soon as money is moved into another industry tourism has a set back.

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