Cuban tourism will continue to be the locomotive of the economy
Cuban tourism can never be in quarantine, the number of visitors may have fallen drastically, but the work continued and will continue to improve everything, said Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz, in a meeting with executives of the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) to evaluate the projections of the sector in the current year and what will be done in 2020.
Cuban tourism will continue to be a locomotive of our economy to generate income that will contribute to increase the welfare of our people, he added while talking to more than 300 executives and specialists at the Palace of the Revolution and via videoconference with the territories.
Summarizing the contribution of the sector in the prevention and control of the epidemic, the Head of the Government of the Republic recalled that more than 8,200 workers have worked in hospitals and isolation centers, 62 units of Popular Camping were put in function of the confrontation, and 25 hotel facilities were prepared for specialized attention to travelers.
The decommercialization of hotel facilities, a worldwide process that led to a 74 percent drop in travel, was used to improve Cuba’s tourist infrastructure, including maintenance actions in some 42,000 rooms.
Juan Carlos García Granda, head of Mintur, presented an audiovisual presentation in which he recalled that on March 16, 2020, almost 80,000 visitors were staying overnight in the country and on April 1 there were just over 2,700 due to the restriction of flights.
Among the priorities of Tourism for the present calendar is to conclude the implementation of the measures of the Economic and Social Strategy for the branch (out of 38 in total, 32 were carried out in 2020), the Ordering Task, and the strengthening of the socialist state enterprise.
Attention is focused on priority markets, on boosting foreign currency income, and on more and new actions to preserve the qualified labor force as long as operations remain limited. Work will also continue in the so-called “out-of-order” rooms (last year more than 7,000 were recovered).
Another priority is the digital transformation of the sector, with the generalization of Internet use in hotel areas and the extra-hotel network, of which more than 70 percent already use broadband; the deployment of Wi-Fi is about to become general in four- and five-star hotels.
In short, the premise for 2021 for the more than 73,000 workers -more than 5,000 in the non-state sector- is quality and a culture of detail in everything. It is a promising year that was preceded by the awarding of 37 international and national awards and 65 recognitions in 2020.
The certification of the facilities with the condition of “More hygienic and safe tourism”, as part of the measures and protocols associated with the COVID-19 confrontation, constitutes a strength that accompanies the gradual recovery of the sector, by providing it with better conditions for the quality service demanded by the “new normality” that should characterize tourism on a planetary scale.
The different work demanded by the travel industry has, among other strengths, the elaboration of a genuinely Cuban recipe book, heir to our culinary tradition; and even the cultivation of vegetables and other products in nearby areas to serve customers and in workers’ dining rooms, said Deputy Minister Mayra Álvarez García.
María del Pilar Mecías Rutes, director of Operations and Quality of Mintur, informed that working with the most hygienic and safe Tourism condition was preceded by the training of the personnel, although this is not the case with many self-employed workers, who have to be prepared according to the protocols, whose compliance is key from now on.
Bárbara Cruz Rodríguez, director of Marketing of the Mintur, analyzed how much is missing in this activity. We need to communicate more about what we do, to make ourselves better known, for which, she said, strategies are being generated by the Communication group and for digital marketing.
Cruz Rodríguez pointed out, however, that they have not been doing nothing. With the slogan “Cuba: your safe destination”, they have been working to reach all markets, both domestic and international, he argued.
He reported that the domestic market has behaved dynamically since the summer. We have reached it from marketing and payment gateways. We also intend to work on upcoming dates, such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and relevant events such as 15th birthdays and honeymoons.
Iyolexis Correa Lorenza, Mintur delegate in Ciego de Avila, commented on the work that has been carried out in recent months and those planned for Jardines del Rey, with special emphasis on the experiences with the Russian market, a novelty for that cay and where more than 30,000 tourists from the Eurasian nation have already visited. Déborah Henríquez Lorenzo, president of the business group Campismo Popular, reported on the maintenance and improvement of the facilities, including the renovation of some 570 rooms and cabins, more than half of them in Mayabeque. The quality of our offers, he said, is also governed by the condition of safer and more hygienic tourism, and almost 90 of its facilities have been granted that certification. At the end of the meeting, the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz, an expert in the matter (he was head of Mintur for several years), reflected on the drastic change that has taken place with COVID-19 in the perception of tourism. People want to travel the same or more than before, but things will never be as they were; now -he predicted- the most successful destinations will be those that have known how to take advantage of this time of paralysis to innovate, to do things differently. The Head of the Government of the Republic emphasized that Cuba has all the potential to achieve the changes that are required. We are seen as a sun and beach destination, but the strength of our culture makes us different, and so does our varied nature. We have many strengths, we have a very large inventory of tourism products, but we have not been able to take full advantage of them, and we are – Marrero Cruz added – at a time when we must redesign all tourism products. We must -he added- change even the traditional marketing methods, putting emphasis on the Internet and within it on social networks, but not only from the promotional campaigns, but with the participation of all tourism workers, each one must feel as a necessity to interact with the public, he said. However, the Prime Minister pointed out, quality is what will define everything in tourism. We have to perfect the quality systems, and the lack of quality -he reiterated- must be penalized, and the first thing is, he said, a smile, the affable treatment, the culture of detail, cleanliness, neatness and professionalism in what we do. We have to guarantee the highest quality in all the tourist products we offer in the country, both to the international and domestic markets, Marrero Cruz emphasized.