Cuba Awaits Doctor Duran’s OK to Restart Tourism


Cayo Guillermo is one of Cuba’s pristine off shore destinations where tourism could possible restart with protection and quarantine measures in place.  Photo: Ralf Malzer/

By Aurelio Pedroso  (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES – The question and its cautious explanation has just been taken on and responded to in part by doctor Francisco Duran Garcia, the national director of Epidemiology, at the Cuban Public Health Ministry, in a public address: treatment for tourists when they first step foot on the island once borders open up again.

Of course, the highest authorities must be putting together a rigorous, essential and much-needed plan into shape, to get the tourist industry up and running again once COVID-19 allows for it.

A task or responsibility that he has to take on and inform the head of State and government, as well as getting the green light from Public Health authorities, of course, which will present corresponding measures such as the helpful health or zero symptoms of infection passport, among other alternatives. Duran has explained this by noting that “one day, when the border does open, measures will be more rigorous, based on international regulations.”

A long time ago, when Osmany Cienfuegos – a vice president of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Tourism in the 1990s – was asked something like what options would US visitors have if Europe and the rest of the world visited the island, he replied that they would have “an island submerged in the sea”, clearly alluding to plans to exploit the excellent beaches located in the northern keys of the Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila and Camaguey provinces, mostly.

This scenario, which already has almost perfect infrastructure in place, including airports that could cater for worldwide flights, might be the starting point for kicking tourism off again on the island. It would require an extraordinary effort on behalf of the Cubans who work there, in terms of protection and quarantine measures they would have to follow.

The warning to prepare us for this possibility came recently from the President and Prime Minister in one of their daily briefings, when they give us an update about the island’s situation in its fight against this lethal Coronavirus.

Up until now, there have been encouraging signs both in controlling the epidemic as well as several international airlines asking for a runway to land on in June. Even so, joy should be restrained and restrictions need to be upheld to prevent a second spike.

The green light for tourism needs a lot of wisdom in its application. Finding the right time to do this. It can’t be too soon, or too late. The country and its people depend upon it.

3 thoughts on “Cuba Awaits Doctor Duran’s OK to Restart Tourism

  • You just omitted one point Stephen, upon return to Canada, the tourist has to undergo 14 days isolation. A Cuban visiting Canada, similarly has to spend 14 days in isolation and I assume, another 14 days upon return to Cuba.
    Optimism like that of Donald Trump in the US may well be a path to disaster. It is obvious to all other than the extreme optimists or scientifically ignorant, that Covid-19 will “just go away” or “just disappear”.
    This is a long-term battle.

  • The article’s author has certainly painted a very optimistic picture of potential tourism business regaining its former self. I hope it manifests true for Cuba’s sake.

    The Canadian airline business, certainly a major contributor to Cuba’s tourism success, is in dire financial straights to put it mildly. I suspect this to be true for European airlines as well.

    Air Canada has just announced (Friday, May 15/’20) the layoff of 20,000 airline workers – immediately!! Air Canada has stated its passenger present seat sale and forecasted future potential is down 90 plus per cent and the airline does not envision any profits for at least the next three years. It has lost billions – yes, with a “b” – of dollars in the first quarter (January, February, March) of this year. Grave, indeed.

    Potential passengers face the economic reality of higher fares (has to be with limited passengers per plane) and unprecedented unemployment from COVID-19’s negative economic impact on the Canadian economy.

    Moses, (poster above) is absolutely correct. Most Canadian tourists (probably all world wide) come to Cuba for one to two week vacation. The Cuban authorities, I hope, cannot quarantine a tourist for 14 days and expect Canadian tourists (or any tourist) to flock to the island to be housed and isolated for their entire stay. Not going to work.

    To allay the tourists’ fear of being contaminated with COVID-19 virus, if planning a trip to Cuba, the Cuban health authorities really need to provide bullet proof assurances that exposure to the virus is extremely minimal. At the moment, and until a viable vaccine is found, no one can provide those assurances.

    Like all other countries, the opening of land and air borders needs to go slow and not let economic imperatives rule hasty decision making because health authorities world wide have already predicted a COVID-19 second wave and third wave is inevitable. History has shown this to be true.

  • The Castro regime must be careful to not let their totalitarian tendencies get the best of them in the necessary effort to screen the first wave of international tourists who come to visit the island. Imposing a 14 day quarantine on a Canadian tourist who has scheduled a 14 day vacation in total would be counterproductive at best. Not allowing tourists to see the cabaret at the Tropicana or tour a tobacco farm in Vinales will severely limit the pool of foreigners wanting to see Cuba. On the other hand, taking the temperature of a asymptomatic German German tourist at the border does nothing to prevent that tourist from infecting a large group of Cubans who work in the most productive sector of the Cuban economy…tourism. Either way, there is risk.

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