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Working toward more Cuban products in the tourism sector

ron mulataThe recently concluded International Tourism Fair (FITCuba 2018) marked record participation (3,000 participants from 62 nations). Through May 18, Cuba had received two million international visitors this year. The figures are promising, but they are no accident. Making Cuba an attractive, safe, and comfortable destination for its visitors, and ensuring a profitable tourism sector that in turn contributes to the development of the country, entails joint efforts.

Many entities, institutions, and people work together to keep the so-called driving force of the economy on track. This collective interest has led to the promotion of productive chains, one of the objectives of the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030. While it is still too early to talk of grand results, today we can glimpse concrete examples in the sector, which have also allowed for improved economic efficiency, efficacy, and competitiveness, with high quality standards.


For a long time, Villa Clara’s suppliers prepared to respond to the tourism demands of this destination, noted Regla Dayamí Armenteros, Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) delegate in the territory.

“Many of the enterprises in the province are today suppliers of the hotel chains present here and many other hotels in the country. The Villa Clara dairy, the canning factory and the Agua Amaro bottling plant, as well as the CALCONF Provincial Apparel and Footwear Enterprise, are responding to the demand and contributing to the substitution of imports,” the Mintur delegate added.

Direct communication between suppliers and their customers, which ensures a favorable relationship and respect between the two parties, has been achieved in the province, which currently has more than 35 hotels, eight campsites, and 533 high quality hostels. This was confirmed by Fidel Rodríguez Tiel, head of the state enterprise Suchel Camacho sales team in Villa Clara. The team is responsible for supplying personal hygiene products to all hotel chains.

“We offer products in different formats. One can find shampoo, conditioner, body soap, body cream, dental and shaving kits, among other offers. Clients place orders in our local offices or directly in the Havana branch. Once the contract is completed, we also guarantee personalization of the products. Deliveries are made to the hotel or the site where the merchandise was requested,” Rodríguez Tiel explained.

Suchel Camacho S.A closed 2017 with sales of 6.9 million CUC, and in 2018 it is expected to exceed plans with an estimated 8 million CUC in sales. Its production levels increase in accordance with demand, and the firm aims to grow alongside tourism.

“Suchel Camacho S.A intends to progress proportionally to tourism development. We go hand in hand, both in production and supply, and the delivery of our products to hotels. As a national enterprise, we intend to guarantee hotel supplies with the quality demanded by current and potential clients, according to the standards of the different recognized hotel categories. We also seek to enter niche markets related to professional lines, such as Spa and cruise ships that arrive to Cuban ports,” the head of the sales team in Villa Clara explained.

As the market leader in this area, Suchel Camacho S.A is also working on the launch of new products that will soon be on the market and on sale to all customers. The enterprise which features as part of joint efforts in the tourism sector through 2030, is present today in all hotel chains of the country and offers perfumery, cleaning and personal hygiene products, both inside and outside hotel chains, and in stores belonging to the Caracol, Caribe and Cimex chains.


Variety, stability, and large volumes of products are required to meet the demands of the tourism sector. Numerous lines are essential, with food products standing out as particularly important. Frutas Selectas is the main enterprise of its kind responsible for marketing agricultural products. In Villa Clara, its basic state enterprise unit (UEB) sells around 150 products, including fruit, leaf and root vegetables, and more recently, processed foods and honey produced by the Apisun enterprise.

“We mainly offer agricultural products, but we already have contracts with new production methods and are selling tomato paste, fruit pulp, preserves and condiments. We supply the hotels of the province and also the owners of hostels,” explained Yuneidis Espinosa Manso, commercial management technician at the UEB.

She added that the demand is known one year in advance and depending on the request, contracts are signed with productive forces. As seasonal products, grains, potatoes,and some vegetables are stored in refrigerated chambers to preserve them throughout the year. This is the case, for example, with cabbage, beets, and carrots.

“We have producers who only sow cabbage or guava for the year. We present them with the orders, reach an agreement, and if that producer can’t cover everything, then we seek others. If we don’t find a producer in the province, we do so at the national level. We likewise take products from here to Sancti Spíritus and Holguín,” Espinosa Manso noted.

Generally, visitors come looking for endemic fruits of Cuba. Depending on the season, they can find guava, mango, bananas, and others. But Villa Clara is lucky enough to have the Escambray mountains, offering the possibility of producing other fruit varieties which are scarce on the market.

“Star fruit, loquat, passion fruit and others that are not widespread are now among our products. We are forming partnerships with mountain producers to specialize in planting these fruits. According to marketability studies, visitors like them, which is why we are also working with suppliers from Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba, and Havana. In the latter province, we have producers who specialize in strawberries, a fruit that is not typical of our country, but which is welcomed and helps us to substitute imports,” explained Espinosa Manso.

Based on the experience of this UEB, forging a relationship that links products, enterprises, and clients has not only allowed the company to increase sales, but also motivated producers and resulted in satisfied customers, given the variety of products they come across on visiting the country’s hotels.


Preserves, papaya fruit in syrup, guava shells, and coconut sweets are desserts that Europeans especially enjoy when visiting the island. These typical Cuban sweets are now offered in hotel buffets and are also in great demand due to their quality.

Humberto Suárez Marrero, commercial manager of the Los Atrevidos Canned Vegetables Enterprise, located in Villa Clara province, noted that chefs, for example, really appreciate the firm’s natural products. This central UEB belongs to the National Canned Goods Enterprise. It currently has four factories that supply tourist facilities and stores selling goods in CUP and CUC.

“The five groups of products that are marketed in large and small formats include tomato paste, sweets in syrup, mayonnaise and sauces, marinated vegetables, and spices. Supply varies according to high and low seasons, and is provided through Comercializadora ITH S.A or A.TComercial S.A, associated with the Gaviota S.A tourism group, responsible for selling directly to the hotels. So far we have not had problems with the demand. There are products that vary depending on the year, but the orders agreed with the different entities are always fulfilled,” Suárez Marrero added.

Syrups for ice cream, candy, sugar in its different formats and some typical Cuban rums and liqueurs are also present in the country’s hotels thanks to the Tecnoazúcar Technical Engineering and Sugar Services Enterprise, part of the AZCUBA Sugar Group.

With a range of more than 167 products in different formats, Tecnoazúcar supplies all hotels on Cuba’s northern keys, the hotel and extra-hotel network of the province, and also extends throughout the country.

“We introduced Mulata and Santero rums to the market, in addition to sugar in mini formats, one kilo, and 50 kilogram bags. We also have Mulata sugar, a product that was requested by Mintur and which is currently in the one kilogram format and is being delivered to all hotel facilities,” explained Liván Pérez Rodríguez, Tecnoazúcar Villa Clara’s commercial manager.

Responsible for marketing all the products of the AZCUBA Sugar Group nationwide, Tecnoazúcar is currently experiencing significant growth of over 12% per year. The new image of some of its products has proved popular. Today there is a significant presence of these products in Cuba’s hotels and increasing demand, which has surpassed all forecasts.

“Guaranteeing production and satisfying that demand is essential to continue growing. We had been present on the market with the same image for a long time, and we decided that in order to reach a greater standing and presence it was necessary to renew it. We’re talking about Santero, Mulata and other rums and liquors that we produce. We compete on price and quality and now this visual change updates our products and allows us to better compete,” Pérez Rodríguez added.

Complying with the premise that it is imperative to replace imports, the Tecnoazúcar commercial manager in Villa Clara explained that it is very important for the enterprise to be one of the nation’s main suppliers. Today, he added, they are preparing to offer quality products that are effective in the market and mean the Ministry of Tourism can avoid importing any of these goods.


The appearance of staff in any space says a lot about the quality of the entity. In the tourism sector, ensuring a good first impression is an important matter for hotel chains.

In the center of the island, this responsibility is being shouldered by the CALCONF Provincial Apparel and Footwear Enterprise, affiliated with the Industries and Handicrafts Enterprise Group (VICLAR) of the Provincial Administration Council of Villa Clara. CALCONF produces and markets textile garments, footwear and other by-products, in addition to providing embroidery and printing services.

Ana Iris Paneque, CALCONF Production and Commercial director, noted that the main product lines are destined for the tourism sector. Among the more than 15 lines are uniforms for all hotel staff, workwear for cooks and janitors, bed sheets, pillow cases, bedspreads, caps, gloves, long and short-sleeved overalls, and other garments for waiters and waitresses, table linen, aprons, and napkins; all of which are personalized.

“The number of garments is requested in the contracts, which can extend from one year to another. If it’s urgent and we can, we undertake the work immediately, but normally we request the fabric in advance and then work with it. We are always looking for new solutions, for example, if there are designs that are not in our portfolio we also make them. We have a variety of clients and we keep in touch with them all the time through email,” explained Iris Paneque.

The enterprise, which is undergoing a development process, currently has seven UEBs able to produce around 3,000 uniforms each month. Thanks to this level of production, they supply all the hotel chains of the province and also others located in Cayo Coco, in Ciego de Ávila province. Among the new designs being promoted is the traditional guayabera shirt, a very attractive piece for those who visit the CALCONF workshop and retail store located in the city of Villa Clara.

“Tourism is a sector in constant growth and for us it is important to be recognized as a provincial enterprise that provides products to other parts of the country. With this work we make known the progress of Villa Clara in the garment sector, which is little known. Likewise, CALCONF facilitates the purchase of these uniforms within the country and thus helps the province and the country to substitute imports,” Iris Paneque noted.


“Creating productive chains has been the best contribution that the province has made. Strengthening Villa Clara with various tourist destinations not only has to do with agriculture or with the efforts of each of the suppliers, it also has to do with participating from the community and consolidating local development so that this can later multiply,” stated Ministry of Tourism delegate Regla Dayamí Armenteros.

Bringing local economies closer to national ones, generating jobs, using industrial capacities in the best way and contributing from the ground to better enterprise management, are some of the results that can be glimpsed today in the province of Villa Clara. The tourism sector is growing in this destination and with it the locality.

Consolidating these experiences at the national level will depend on integration among all parties. Much-needed productive chains depend on these activities being one hundred percent achieved. Boosting standards within the Cuban economy implies better planning, knowing potential capacity, innovating and producing, acquiring comprehensive training, and working towards maximum quality.

As one of the most dynamic economic sectors in Cuba, tourism is continuing to advance, and these are some examples of how efforts are being focused in this area. Reducing import dependency and gradually balancing the Cuban economy with national products will depend on the creation of strong productive chains.


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