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The Cuba Tourist Board hosts partner event, introduces new director

  • Air
  •   10-17-2014  11:53 am

The Cuba Tourist Board hosts partner event, introduces new director

During his introductory event to the Canadian travel industry last night, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board - Canada Eloy Govea invited partners to see the destination through his eyes.

Govea, who proceeds Gustavo Rodriguez, has 12 years of experience in the travel industry, in the past working for both tour operators and hoteliers. In his new role working with Cuba's number one international market, this director sees potential for a shift in product demand.

"In Cuba, Canadians have found beautiful beaches, beautiful weather, beautiful people - but the time has come for them to have a deeper contact with the richness of our culture," he told PAX. "There is no better time than now."

Eloy Govea, director, Cuba Tourist Board - CanadaNot only is air service scheduled to be more robust than ever this coming winter season, there are also more than 2,000 new hotel rooms slated to open across the country, plus Cuba is anticipating a number of cultural milestones.

For example, some major cities are celebrating 500 years since being founded, including Baracoa, Bayamo, Trinidad, and Camaguey, among others. Havana will mark this occasion in 2019, but in the meantime, has been shortlisted in the Seven Wonders Cities contest.

"It is my sense that Canadians travelling to Cuba now are not getting the real taste of Cuba," Govea said. "If you don't go to the cities, interact with the culture, interact with the people - you are having a similar experience to what you can have in other Caribbean places. The culture makes us different."

He said that events and festivals of cultural expression are easy to find year-round, including Habanos Festival, Bienal de la Habana (Contemporary Plastic Arts Festival), Cubadisco, the Ballet Festival and the Jazz Festival.

Demonstrating the country's commitment to this expansive appeal, the director noted that when it comes to government input on tourism, it is not just the Ministry of Tourism involved, but also the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education.

Already in 2014, there has been a 4.5 per cent increase in Canadian visitation to the island, which is equivalent to more than 40,000 travellers. The tourism office is anticipating a strong winter season, noting the support of existing partners plus the addition of product such as that of CanJet Vacations.

"Thank you for your continued support and thank you for your commitment to Cuba," he told attendees of last evening's event. "It is your commitment that has made it possible to have over a million Canadians travelling to Cuba every year, and thus being the first destination for Canadians in the Insular Caribbean."

What's new?

- Transporting people from city to city in Cuba is Viazul, a public bus transportation system, which can now be booked through Amadeus GDS in Cuba and worldwide in 2015.

- The Ministry of Tourism designated Ecotur as the DMC exclusively dedicated to Cuba's ecotourism, offering access to a variety of product, itineraries and ideas.

- New openings this winter include Melia Jardines del Rey with 1,176 rooms and 1,020 rooms at Valentin Perla Blanca.

- Plaza Pesquero and Playa Pesquero Premium will also be open for business this winter, with several amenities including a bowling alley, shopping, Cuban handicrafts and more. Playa Pesquero Hotel will add 56 high-end rooms, a spa, a restaurant, and other facilities by the next season.

 - Work has begun to build or renovate 25 hotels, plus development is in the works for areas such as Paredon Grande Key, Cayo Cruz Key and Peninsula de Ramon in Antilla, Holguin, to bring the infrastructure needed for new hotel developments.

- For those looking for a very authentic experience, hundreds of private accomodations are opening across Cuba, including bed-and-breakfasts (commonly called ¨casas particulares¨), plus thousands of privately-owned restaurants across the island (commonly called ¨Paladares")

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