Canadians just can’t get enough of Cuba. For this edition of Friday 5, Eloy Govea, director for Canada for the Cuba Tourist Board, gives us the latest visitor figures and shines the spotlight on some ‘beyond-the-beach’ hidden gems.
1. Cuba is a perennial favourite with Canadian vacationers. How is the destination performing out of the Canadian market?
Govea: Cuba closed 2013 with 2,852,572 arrivals from around the world. Canada closed 2013 with 1,105,547 arrivals. For July 2014, the arrivals from Canada were 57,725 which is an increase of 2% this year versus last year. We have 335 hotels with 58,434 rooms, of which 65% have a rating of between four and five stars.
2. What new resorts or major resort refurbishments are planned for the next couple of years?
Govea: In Cayo Coco, the opening of a new resort (with more than 1,000 rooms) is imminent: The Melia Jardines del Rey at Flamenco Beach. Other important projects for the next couple of years are in Holguin, Cayo Santa María and Península de Ancon. In Havana, important work is being undertaken to open two beautiful hotels, including one at Manzana de Gómez.
3. Are there any new regions of Cuba popping up on the tourism radar, that maybe travellers haven’t heard of?
Govea: As our motto runs, Cuba is more than sun and beaches.
The tourism development in Cuba does not restrict itself to beach resorts, thus it is expanding to the whole island, specially to cities with remarkable architectural, cultural and historical heritage such as Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Camaguey and Santiago de Cuba. There you can find comfortable and very unique hotels, which may perfectly be an attraction in itself because of the architectural and historic values they feature.
Nature lovers can also find their way to heavenly spots like Baracoa and Viñales, not to mention the Cuban seabed treasures in dive sites ranked among the most spectacular of the world, which draw the attention of scientists, experts and diving enthusiasts. Cuba is also a powerhouse in health care, and our visitors have the most varied options of medical services, ranging from weight-loss packages to highly-specialized treatments.
4. Why do you think Cuba stays so popular with Canadian travellers year after year?
Govea: Cuban characteristics destination such as peace, health and security, are deemed highly by Canadians. On top of that, the warmth of our climate along with that of the Cuban people, who by nature are very hospitable and friendly, make Cuba the ideal place to be.
5. What are the Cuba Tourist Board’s best resources for agents wanting to know more about Cuba?
Govea: The best direct resource is our website gocuba.ca which provides all the information needed for travel to Cuba. We also provide tourist guides and maps at every travel show and to everyone who requests them by phone and e-mail. Our toll-free number for use outside Ontario 1-866-404-2822.