Numbers will rise but for now Cuba gets more Canadians in a month than Americans in a year

Numbers to rise but for now Cuba gets more Canadians/month than Americans/year

TORONTO — For the sixth year running Cuba has welcomed its one millionth Canadian visitor before the year is out, reaffirming Canada’s undisputed status as the number one source market to Cuba by a considerable margin.

Cuba also welcomed its three millionth visitor internationally this month, another milestone, and 74 days earlier of when Cuba achieved the same feat two years ago. For 2017, the goal is four million visitors.

Everyone knows Cuba’s tourism industry is in expansion mode. What they may not know is that even with the slow-but-sure arrival of the American market (and increasing service standards, and new and better facilities), Canadians “shouldn’t be concerned” about grand-scale changes to one of their favourite destinations, says Eloy Govea, Director of Cuba Tourism Office, Canada.

“Cuba is a country with great pride and character; and will never give up its principles, its traditions, its values and its identity,” says Govea.

Cuba has always been and will always be thankful to its friends, those who gave the country a hand when it needed it the most, he added, noting that the number of Canadians going to Cuba in one month is bigger than the number of Americans going to Cuba in a whole year. With the embargo still in place, Americans are still prohibited by their government to travel freely to Cuba. And “99% of Canadians go to beach destinations, which Americans cannot visit as tourists due to the travel regulations they need to comply with”.

Plus, culture in Cuba is a big deal. Even in the most difficult times, culture has been the number one priority. “With so much heritage, so much beauty, so much charm, this is the country that inspires writers, plastic artists, photographers, filmmakers. On top of that, its safe streets, unspoiled nature and welcoming well-educated people, complete an ideal environment for memorable vacations.”

This winter Havana, Varadero and Cayo Guillermo are adding new properties to be managed by Kempinsky, Iberostar and Muthu respectively, while Cayo Las Brujas will be adding two properties to be run by Sercotel and Banyan Tree, as well as a tourist plaza.

Pullman Cayo Coco is also adding new sections of rooms. That means 3,000+ more hotel rooms will open through April 2017.

Through 2030, 100,000 new hotel rooms, 20+ golf course projects and 20+ marina projects will be added to Cuba’s portfolio.

As a result, seven brand new destinations will emerge: Peninsula de Ramón in Holguín, and the keys Sabinal (north of Camaguey), and Paredón Grande and Romano (North of Ciego de Avila); along with the Golf Destinations Punta Colorada (Pinar del Río), El Salado (Artemisa) and Carboneras (Matanzas).

Govea says it’s also important to note the substantial increase in the private-owned tourism-related businesses that come as a “perfect complement” to the tourist infrastructure outside the hotels: Cuba now has more than 2,000 restaurants and more than 16,000 B&Bs.

All of our Cuba’s main tourist areas (with the only exception of Baracoa) are reporting business as usual after Hurricane Matthew earlier this month.

Govea also let agents know that the Cuba Tourism Office is in the process of refurbishing and improving its website. “It will be more informative, more interactive, more navigation-friendly and more mobile device-friendly. It will also feature an interactive map, which users will be able to download to access offline.”

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