Cuba’s Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism

Fabian Flores  (Café Fuerte)

Chinese tourists in Havana.

HAVANA TIMES — The Grupo Gaviota, one of the pillars of the commercial chain operated by Cuba’s Armed Forces, has launched an aggressive campaign to attract Chinese tourists to Cuba.

The Cuban government is laying its bets on the mid-term potential of the Chinese tourism market, today the top source country (reporting 100 million travelers every year)

The number of Chinese tourists that travel to the island is infinitesimal when compared to other destinations (a mere 22,218 Chinese travelled to Cuba last year), despite the 100 % growth experienced since 2008. China ranks 15th among the island’s tourism source countries.

Courting the Chinese

According to a report issue by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX), a delegation of the Grupo Gaviota company headed by general manager Ileana Pilar Martinez traveled to China at the beginning of September and held a meeting at the Cuban embassy with the three agencies that were the main sources of Chinese tourism to the island in 2013.

Martiez invited the Chinese companies to assess the possibility of joint ventures in the tourism sector, from the building of hotels to the creation of golf courses.

The visit to China by Gaviota representatives coincided with the launching of a six-minute promotional video (below), with Chinese subtitles, about Cuba’s touristic charms.

By the close of the year, the Grupo Gaviota S.A. will operate 55 hotels, 12 of them in the Varadero beach area, for a total of 29,400 rooms. The company is also planning the development of marinas and a range of other tourist facilities.

Chinese Food

The expansion of the Gaviota Varadero Marina, expected to become Cuba’s largest and most modern facility of its kind (with a mooring capacity of 1,200 vessels), will be completed next year.

The first Cuba-China forum was held in Havana last year. It was aimed at the promotion of Cuban products that could contribute to an increase in Chinese tourism.

At the forum, there was talk of raising the number of Chinese visitors to the island to 100,000 a year. The Chinese ambassador in Havana, Zhang Tuo, went as far as predicting “a sea of Chinese tourists for the near future.

Some of the issues to be addressed in order to encourage more visits to Cuba from China are the scarce availability of Chinese food on the island, the training of tourist guides who speak Mandarin and the search for better flight connections between the two countries.

Gaviota video promoting Chinese tourism in Cuba:

23 thoughts on “Cuba’s Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism

  • September 29, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I have booked the Iberostar Varadero starting November 2 – C. U Der ???

  • September 26, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    A great trip for the mega rich of China would be – one week in Vancouver – second week in Cuba – Si !!!

  • September 26, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    When the Chinese completed the railway they had no Chinese ladies to party and put with so most went to the USA – some went back to China. A few did marry into the Europeon and African ethnic groups. When a person fron Africa has a baby with a person from China the baby looks very much AFRICA – Si !!!

  • September 26, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Machado is a relative to my children by adoption of their mother. They are directly related to the late Celia Sanchez. Both are going into politics after they complete their education – Michel – Dr. of International Law – Angelica – Dr. of Surgery

  • September 25, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    That is very interesting and I love the bit about the twinkle. But whereas the Chinese population of Canada has blossomed and grown, that in Cuba has diminished nearing the point of extinction.
    It was for example salutory that the 2012 Census in Cuba made no provision in its racial question number 6 for the Chinese. The three choices being White, Metiza/Mulato and Black.
    Clearly the Castro family regime will have marked enthusiasm to pander to the needs of the capitalist Chinese. Firstly because they are searching for a patron to replace Maduro’s Venezuela which now has the 2nd highest inflation rate in the world and secondly that developments involving Gaviota SA are beneficial to the family coffers, being under the direction of Raul’s son-in-law.
    The Cuban railway system as part of the national infra-structure has degenerated into a pitiful state under Socialismo, one train a day passes through our town.

  • September 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    I really am happy for those goats Gordon, I first saw them in 1976 when staying with Neil and Pat Duggan at Cobble Hill. It was Neil’s grandfather who cut the original road from Cowichan Bay to Cobble Hill and i have a signed copy of “Cowichan my Valley” written by Neil’s uncle. I guess today’s goats are the great grandchildren of the ones I first saw.
    Yes, I am aware of the changes in Cuba. A very well educated young fellow aged about 35 said to me that the decision to allow Cubans to buy and sell their homes was the biggest political change in his lifetime. But, the hardened old Stalinists like your relative Machado Ventura will resist providing anything that encourages the freedom of the individual and inhibits the control by the State.

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