The Reopening of Cuba’s Tourist Industry, When and How?

By Aurelio Pedroso  (Progreso Weekly)

HAVANA TIMES – At some other time we may have announced the millionth tourist arriving with great fanfare. Now we will have to honor the first person to arrive with whatever honors are available: red carpet with government dignitaries and even a Mercedes Benz on the runway, if that’s what it takes.

If we can get him or her to pay in advance, event better… There are pressing bank debts, companies that are owed money, and even the country’s stomachs ready to process food or certain medicines.

The resumption of tourism on the Island will be, aside from the metaphors, a rare and unique decision, one where the public health authorities, regardless of urgent political or economic interests, will decisively intervene.

Almost parallel to President Miguel Díaz-Canel words of “designing the recovery stage,” and pointing out “how we are going to open up tourism, how we are going to open up flights, and from which countries…” there have been more than a few foreign airlines that have announced that they will resume landing on the Island.

Air Canada just announced flights starting June 1 to Cayo Coco (Ciego de Ávila), Holguín and Varadero. From Madrid, a tour operator friend of mine says that Evelop and Air Plus Ultra are already heating up the engines for the same date in June. The latter will supposedly fly to its destination on Tuesdays to Santiago de Cuba.

Cubana Airlines, meanwhile, will have to wait to fly to London while Prime Minister Boris Johnson decides.

At the same time, there are plans for flights to and from Cancun, Mexico, through Aeromexico, while the Panamanian Copa also studies and evaluates those initial days of June.

There’s been an avalanche of requests for landing ‘slots,’ according to an aviation expert friend of mine. This fact suggests that airlines don’t appear to be very wrong about the possibility of starting to fly starting in June. They cannot all be wrong in their calculations and projections.

The truth is that it is not known when airports will reopen. It will be necessary to wait for the unfolding battle against the virus and what decision the Cuban government takes regarding the safeguarding of its borders against a disease that is still a mystery. If the closing was controversial, the reopening will be no less contentious.

Perhaps one of the measures taken will be the controversial Covid Free health passport, one where a visitor who arrives will be required laboratory tests with no less than three PCR studies, in addition to quarantining.

From neighboring Miami, there is little to expect since that city has the double virus: COVID-19 and the Trump Virus-20.

This is a situation that is too risky to forecast at this moment. And this is no time for improvisation. A calm and far-sighted projection should prevail. One where we must decide between the purse (money) or life (the pandemic).

21 thoughts on “The Reopening of Cuba’s Tourist Industry, When and How?

  • August 14, 2020 at 10:37 am

    Reading some of the comments in this site made me want to participate. We are all very anxious to travel once again and take advantage of the fact that we are fortunate enough to have some hard earned cash to dispose. The Cubans “milking” us tourist comment I read is just unfair,not to mention insulting. Have you ever realized how little you pay to be in a tropical country? Have you ever considered how SAFE you are in Cuba? Note that I have capitalized the word safe,because if you been there a couple of times,you may have noticed that is a fact of life in Cuba; not only for us as tourists,but for the locals as well. Another fact of life you might missed is that the airlines ( I mean ours) are the ones deciding the price we pay to go there. When you talk about “milking” you should inform yourself on how this system (ours) works. You should compare prices from other destinations in South Asia and many other destinations in Latin America. Would you pay those prices to expend your vacation in a sort of gated community (the resort) because “out there” is dangerous?. I won’t try to explain why some tourists find Cuba a “little” too poor when it comes to the food and the condition of some of the hotels we go to. Even though I’ll try just some facts: I understand that some of these places are a little bit in need of repairs,but one has to understand that when one has to manage a limited budget one has to choose between painting a building or providing resources for the population. The food in these cheap places is not up to your standards?. Try the one that most of us consume on a regular basis in our “fortunate” countries, paying outrageous prices. I can go on for many pages,but does not make much sense,since I realized that some people are just that : people. Greetings from Toronto.

  • May 13, 2020 at 1:14 pm

    Methinks you credit the Castro regime with capitalist capability. Their guiding principle as previously demonstrated, is the lowest cost. Time will tell.

  • May 13, 2020 at 8:49 am

    Calm down, I merely asked for a clarification of a point made in the article. If Virgin goes bust, however, there would be a compelling case for Cubana to lease a decent plane for direct flights from the UK.

  • May 12, 2020 at 12:08 pm

    Who would fly Cubana Aviacion when it is possible they might be sub-contracting 39 year old aircraft rented from other countries cowboy outfits? Look up the safety analysis of the different airlines prior to booking – it is your life that is at stake!
    There are normally a variety of ways to fly from the UK to Cuba using reputable airlines. Yes, Virgin out of Gatwick was the easiest one, but there are many others, for example, internal airports like Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle to Paris or Madrid then on to other reputable safety conscious airlines.

  • May 12, 2020 at 11:16 am

    OK you meant Cubana Airlines. Sorry, but no word at all on that for the moment.

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