If tourism goes well, the economy will not be far behind

Written by Germán Veloz Placencia / Granma

Carlos Álvarez Infante, a commercial specialist at the Ministry of Tourism office in Holguín, told Granma that he is optimistic about the country’s November 15 reopening to international tourism.

In the case of this province, he said, estimates indicate that during the winter high season (November-March), promotional work with international tour operators has allowed for a projection of 49 to 52 weekly flights, very encouraging news, he emphasized, after a period of much suffering for the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Holguín is one of the provinces where operations were gradually expanded, following the October 1 border opening, when the Canadian airline Transat resumed its trips to Cuba, which took place throughout the month, at a frequency of two flights a week.”

Earlier in November, Air Canada Vacations and Sunwing, also Canadian, began operations, while the Russian airline NordWind has scheduled jumbo jet flights with weekly frequencies, beginning on the 19th. In addition, he said, flights are planned from Cancun, Mexico, and the Bahamas.

“At present, three of the Gaviota Tourism Group’s hotels are open and being marketed: Playa Pesquero, Paradiso Río de Oro and Playa Costa Verde.

“The Cubanacán chain has opened the five-star Gran Muthu Almirante Beach, located in Guardalavaca. It is a 514-room facility, built and equipped with all the technology Cuba has been able to access,” he reported.

Similarly, he explained, Villa Don Lino, which in September housed medical personnel from the Henry Reeve Brigade, is now providing services; while the Club Amigo Atlántico, in Guardalavaca, the Villa Mirador de Mayabe and the El Bosque motel – located respectively in and near the city of Holguin and currently serving as isolation centers for COVID-19 patients – will resume the provision of tourist services shortly, primarily honoring reservations canceled during the closure caused by the pandemic.

Regarding city tourism, he added that the Caballeriza Hotel is open in the provincial capital, to be followed soon by El Esmeralda, reporting that El Saratoga is only providing restaurant and bar service since renovations and maintenance work continues in guestrooms.

Yaima Suárez Risá, a Tourism Ministry representative in the province, also expressed confidence in the reopening’s success, noting that during the obligatory interruption of tourism caused by the pandemic, maintenance and preservation work was completed at facilities, along with repairs to vital technological systems.

“For the reopening, work has been done to improve the appearance of the tourist pole, since we sell Holguín as a destination and, from the moment clients arrive at the airport, everything is part of their vacation. Local roads around Guardalavaca have been improved, along with signage and billboards.

“At facilities, work focused on capital repairs to rooms, refurbishment of beach shelters and other buildings, restoration of landscaping and painting of exterior and interior areas, as well as the improvement of furniture,” she reported.

The Servisa bakery-sweet shop was finished, Marlin Guardalavaca Marina added a new diving center and a service called the Cofradía del pescador (Fisherman’s Guild) was opened, which all contribute to the diversification of offers, she said.
Suárez pointed out that sector workers have all been fully vaccinated, as stipulated by health authorities, and are in optimal condition to conduct epidemiological monitoring of tourists.

Logistical support for hotels has been prepared and will include maintaining stable commercial relations with agricultural producers and distributors, in both the state and private sectors, to acquire food, she said.

“It is a work system that we have been consolidating, through systematic contact with suppliers, who will prioritize the facilities with high levels of operations. Given the need to be more proactive, we are looking for new providers, who can guarantee fresh produce and more competitive prices. Today we have 48 contracts with different producers.”

Tourist facilities with unused outdoor space have also planted edible crops, to allow for some self-sufficiency, she added.
Suárez reported that Holguín has more than 7,000 hotel rooms available in 27 facilities, managed by prestigious hotel chains such as Cubanacán, Gaviota, Islazul, Sol Meliá, Iberostar and Muthu, among others, in addition to some 500 rooms in B&Bs meeting international standards.

The province’s challenge is to provide visitors a memorable experience and promote economic prosperity in the region and the country.

By US-Cuba Normalization Committee

Organizing Committee, International and Nationwide Conference for the Normalization of US-Cuba Relations.