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Ministry of Tourism annual review: Presenting the real Cuba

Canal turismo revistaCuba’s goal is to reach 4.5 million visitors this year, a figure that can be achieved with no problem if directives and work projections, discussed February 28 during the leisure industry’s annual review, are implemented.

Although the year will surely be difficult and challenging, given the current context, noted President of the Republic of Cuba Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, speaking at the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) meeting, “We cannot stop or give up, we must continue moving forward with the conviction that no one, much less Yankee arrogance, is going to detain us.”

The annual review was also attended by Prime Minister Manuel Marrero; Mercedes López Acea, member of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee’s Political Bureau and Secretariat; and Tourism Minister Juan Carlos García Granda, among other authorities.

In revisiting the industry’s performance in 2019, Díaz-Canel noted the impact of U.S. government sanctions and measures meant to damage our economy, which led to a decrease of 9.26% in the number of visitors, as compared to the previous year, with a total of 4,275,561 international tourists arriving.

Although projections were not met, the President stated, to have reached such a figure, in such a complicated context, must be considered an achievement. We cannot, however, lose sight of certain goals, including work to improve the quality of services, develop better options, while maintaining a friendly, professional environment, key to providing a pleasant stay for visitors, he said.

Given this reality, Díaz-Canel continued, we must implement new marketing strategies, promote innovative thinking with much creativity and attention to detail, and present genuine Cuban culture.

This opinion was shared by Manuel Marrero, who highlighted the development of a plan with 56 measures to increase the arrival of visitors to the country, of which 71% are already being implemented.

He likewise addressed the need to develop more powerful commercial work, find new market niches and recover lost ones, while taking better advantage of opportunities for domestic tourism, promoting Cuban participation in tourist activities with attractive offers and services.

A day lost in computerization is a day given away to the enemy, Marrero insisted, pointing out that the use of social media in commercial and promotional work is insufficient.

“We need a greater presence on digital platforms, to position our offers. We need to continue developing e-commerce. Although progress has been made, the goal is to provide customers access to hotel prices, updated promotions, make reservations and even pay online.”

He insisted on the extension of connectivity in hotels and continued efforts to automate systems and services in the industry.

Another priority, he noted, is to raise the quality of our tourism. “For this we must create new products, consider the age of facilities and renovate them as needed, promote our gastronomy as a reference that also sells the image of Cuba, and develop more extra-hotel activities with nightlife options, cabarets and discos.”

Internal accounting is another recurrent issue to be addressed, he stated, insisting on working with greater rigor, leaving no room for corruption.

Given the importance of reducing imports within the sector, consolidating relations and productive links with national industry was a key point on the meeting’s agenda.

This is an area in which we have made progress, but not enough. We must restructure our work and gather data that allows us to see how much tourism can save by purchasing supplies from Cuban companies, that we now buy on the international market, he said.

Toward that end, the Prime Minister recalled, formulas have been sought to stimulate the participation of national industry in tourism, including credit available from Finatur – a non-banking financial institution, affiliated with the Central Bank of Cuba – which provides financing to domestic companies to develop productive chains with tourism.

Another incentive is payment in freely convertible currency to companies supplying products that replace imports, for up to 50% of the amount owed, an option that both tourist entities and domestic producers should take advantage of, without, of course, compromising quality, he said.

Ties with universities and technical schools, with a pool of resources that can support the sector, continue to be vital, as well as working with non-state economic actors, to provide construction and repair services in our facilities, as well as lodging, dining and other services, the Prime Minister stated.

Strengthening the work of cadres, rejuvenating our minds and ways of doing things, meeting the demands of the times the country is facing, were also emphasized during the meeting. We cannot be discouraged or disheartened. In spite of the enemy’s efforts to disrupt the industry in Cuba, tourism, as a strategic sector for economic development, continues and will continue to contribute to the country, he insisted.


According to the report presented by Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos Garcia Granda, the external aspects that affected the sector were compounded by our own inadequacies, all the untapped potential, and lack of more effective public communication, especially directly with retail travel agencies and in sales of optional activities.

We must continue working on raising the quality of our tourist products, he said. “We are aware that this issue must be addressed comprehensively as required, and with actions on the part of staff and workers, to ensure good service to the customers who visit us.”

The lack of internet connectivity via wifi has been a frequent complaint raised by tourists, he noted. To address this issue, a series of measures were adopted, and now 44% of hotels have full coverage, and 62% of four and five stars facilities have wifi throughout their properties, including the beach.

Also in need of attention is the use of e-commerce as a marketing tool, via Cuba’s own websites, since the tendency has been to rely on virtual travel agencies like Expedia and

“In this arena, the ministerial strategy is to use the official tourism portal CubaTravel, one of 22 projects prioritized in the national Plan for the Computerization of Cuban Society,” García stated.

He noted that the industry continues to advance, with the construction of two joint-venture hotels on Trinidad’s Ancon Peninsula, investment projects that are moving forward satisfactorily.

“Despite of these accomplishments, deficiencies persist, on which work must continue, including development, approval, dissolution or liquidation of businesses with foreign capital. Along with the impact of the activation of the Helms-Burton Act’s Title III, these deficiencies made the realization of prioritized projects impossible,” Gracía said.

According to the Minister of Tourism, although 2020 began with significant tension, the year’s plan was designed based on the sector’s potential, not on last year’s deficiencies.

Difficulties associated with marketing, quality, investment, economic and financial issues, internal accounting, management, computerization and productive chains must become work objectives this year, with a focus on strategies that lead to their resolution, since only this way can proposed objectives be met, he said.


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