Cuba’s Tourism Minister gives Canadians the go-ahead, as Sunwing resumes Camaguey flights

Cuba’s Tourism Minister gives go-ahead as Sunwing resumes Camaguey flights

TORONTO — Considering how important the Canadian market is to Cuba, the island’s Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero, wanted Canadians to be “the first to know” how the island has bounced back from Irma “better than ever.”

Marrero arrived in Canada on Oct. 9 to update travel authorities and partners on the steadily progressing hurricane recovery efforts in Cuba. He was joined by Michel Bernal, the newly appointed commercial director from Mintur. Their arrival marks Marrero’s first international trip since Irma made landfall, which speaks to how highly he regards Canadian visitors. Canadians comprise roughly 40% of visitors to Cuba each year.

“Canadians and Cubans have long enjoyed a bond of friendship and cooperation, and our decision to come here first is a reflection of that relationship,” he said.

The majority of tourist facilities were left undamaged by the initial impact of the storm. Major tourist destinations like Havana, Varadero, Santa Lucia and Holguin have been restored after a swift and organized response.

However, the coastal destinations of Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria and Cayo Guillermo remain closed to tourists. Hotels in these affected regions will reopen in two stages: the first half reopening on Nov. 1, and the latter on Nov. 15.

“It is important to note that we aren’t simply restoring these resorts: we’re making them even better,” he added. “We’ll make sure that these properties are more than prepared in the event of another hurricane, and proactively upgrade the properties that were unaffected by the storm. Visitors to Cuba can expect the very best in service and safety.”

Sunwing is also throwing its support behind Cuba, announcing that it will resume flights to Camaguey as per its original schedule starting Nov. 1. All hotels in Camaguey, says the tour operator, will be fully reopened in time for the first flights. Service into Cayo Coco will resume starting Nov. 7, while flights to Cayo Santa Maria will recommence from Nov. 10 onwards from Montreal. Cayo Santa Maria services from Toronto and Quebec, on the other hand, have been rescheduled from Nov. 11.

Flights to all other Cuban destinations are already operating as normal.

Sunwing has been working closely with the local authorities to assess the readiness of resorts in Cayo Coco and Cayo Santa Maria. Several members of the company’s senior management team will arrive in both destinations today, Oct. 13, to perform an on-site inspection at the invitation of Marrero.

Marrero also emphasized how the Cuba Tourism Board remains steadfast in its commitment to have 100% of tourist destinations and facilities up and running by the beginning of the winter travel season. The Tourism Board will continue to update Canadians as new information becomes available.

A detailed list of hotel reopening dates is expected to be released early next week.