In an exclusive interview with Prensa Latina during the Tourism Fair (Fitur) in Ifema-Madrid, Cuban Tourism Minister Juan Carlos Garcia praised the relevance of this showcase of the tourism industry in the Spanish capital, where representatives from 107 countries have gathered.
Fitur is one of the most important events from a strategic point of view for Cuba.
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Fair had not really had an upturn of the magnitude of this year, so many tour operators working our market could exchange first-hand information to make an updated assessment, Garcia pointed out.
“It can be said that we could appreciate that we are closer to a real recovery of tourism worldwide, and consensus is very favorable for Cuba, although perhaps not as quickly as we would like, but we are prepared to receive customers,” he noted.
The Cuban Tourism minister said that the goal for 2022 is to receive 2.5 million foreign holidaymakers.
However, he admitted that everything will happen when the tourist sending countries begin to have greater control over the pandemic “and thus achieve the level of visits we want.”
The aspiration is to get as close as possible to the range we reached in 2019 and the idea of receiving 2.5 million travelers may be possible, he added.
In response to another question from Prensa Latina, related to the strengths and weaknesses of the sector globally and in particular, Garcia acknowledged that there is a lot of work to be done, although major investments were made in repairs, protocols validated in 2021 that are updated, maintenance and training that offer a good basis for the development of the sector in Cuba.
NEW TECHNOLOGIES AND THE US BLOCKADE
In the final part of the interview with Prensa Latina, questions were raised about the impact of the unstoppable new technologies and the obstacles posed by the US economic blockade on Cuba for its more comprehensive development.
We are moving at a good pace in computerization and digitalization and we are expanding the possibilities of navigation in all areas of tourist facilities, with the diversification of WiFi services, he added.
The most visible results are the traveler’s platform, which will make it possible to include health and migratory requirements from home and access them by means of a QR code.
In addition, online pre-check-in and an e-commerce platform was launched, with the possibility of paying with a card to be supplied by the hotels.
The capacity of engineers and professionals in this field made it possible to create several applications to facilitate the Internet environment for tourists, he said.
The Cuban minister pointed out that the US blockade has been in place since Cuba started tourist activity.
Now most of (Donald) Trump’s 243 measures are still in force, all focused on curbing the development of tourism in our country, he said.
It is up to us, in the face of this permanent aggressiveness, to find formulas and methods to revive tourism and reinforce the work with our major tourist sending countries, such as Canada, Russia and Europe, he noted.
We can say, with much modesty, that our country ranks second in the world in vaccination rates, after the United Arab Emirates, he concluded.