TORONTO — Cuba is easing entry requirements for travellers coming into the country effective Nov. 15, 2021.
In the meantime tour operators have already been ramping up their Cuba programs for winter 2021-22.
An update from the Cuba Tourist Board says Cuba is making the move “in preparation for the winter season and taking into consideration that by November, 92.5 % of the population will be vaccinated.”
NO COVID TEST PRIOR TO ENTERING CUBA
All of Cuba’s tourist destinations will reopen by Nov. 15, plus the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba has announced more relaxed entry protocols effective the same date.
The new rules focus on the surveillance of symptomatic patients, temperature screening and diagnostic test performed at random.
“This means: NO Covid test prior entering Cuba and NO PCR upon arrival at the Cuban airport (which in the past was completed to 100 % of the passengers),” says the update from the Cuba Tourist Board.
The new protocols also mean that Canadian incoming travellers must show that they are fully vaccinated or, if they are not vaccinated, they must submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before entering Cuba.
The PCR test Canadians need to re-enter back in Canada is done at the hotels and it costs US$30 (payable locally by Visa or debit/Visa).
The Cuban tourism authorities have also announced the opening of the local tourism market and the cancelling of the quarantine for passengers staying in private rental homes (i.e. B&Bs). Locals can also stay at tourist facilities shared by international visitors.
Lessner Gomez, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto praised Cuba’s vaccination rollout. The country has done an incredible job vaccinating its people including children as young as two years old, says Gomez. “We are the first country in the world to administer COVID-19 vaccines to toddlers,” said Gomez. “The vaccination program in Cuba, the strengthening of the health and safety protocols in all tourists’ facilities and the high vaccination rate in Canada” have made the Nov. 15 eased restrictions possible, he adds.
“The fact that Cuba is relaxing the rules and that the tourists will be allowed to travel around and enjoy our beautiful country is very exciting and very good news at the time when Canadians are looking forward to returning to normal and are planning their winter travels,” said Gomez.
WHAT TOUR OPERATORS ARE SAYING
ACV Vice-President Nino Montagnese says ACV already has capacity scheduled to ramp up in November.
“This is very good news for our customers,” Montagnese told Travelweek in the wake of Cuba’s announcement.
“We will have flying not only from Montreal and Toronto but also Halifax and Ottawa with added capacity and destinations from all,” he added.
From Toronto, ACV is offering Cayo Coco (starts Nov. 2), Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara) (Nov. 4), Havana (Dec. 19), Holguin (Nov. 1) and Varadero (Nov. 1). From Ottawa, flights to Varadero start Dec. 27, and from Halifax, Cayo Coco starts Dec. 24. From Montreal, ACV will offer Cayo Coco (starts Nov. 6), Cayo Santa Maria (Santa Clara) (Nov. 2), Holguin (Nov. 4) and Varadero (Nov. 3).
At Transat, Cuba flights at the peak of the winter season will operate from Montreal (Cayo Coco, Holguin and Santa Clara 2x weekly, Varadero 4x weekly); Quebec City (Holguin and Varadero, 1x weekly) and Toronto (Cayo Coco and Santa Clara 2x weekly, Holguin 3x weekly and Varadero 4x weekly), says spokesperson Debbie Cabana.
Sunwing will offer weekly flights to Varadero and Cayo Coco starting in October and November from several gateways across Canada including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Edmonton. As winter progresses Sunwing expects to add more Canadian departure gateways and popular Cuban destinations, to reflect evolving consumer demand.
“We are thrilled to hear the update on the entry requirements and Cuba’s commitment to such a high vaccination rate. With our Cuba flights starting from multiple gateways across Canada in October and November, we can’t wait to help Sunwing customers return to this tropical oasis, a perennial favourite among Canadians,” Sunwing’s Chief Marketing Officer, Samantha Taylor, tells Travelweek.