During Madrid’s International Tourism Fair, FITUR 2018, Cuba received the honour of being declared “safest country” – a title it proudly holds and which completely debunks certain claims recently made by Trump’s administration that seek to tarnish the island’s impeccable reputation for safety. This recognition proves Cuba is one of the safest countries for tourists to visit, not just in the Caribbean, but the whole world | SUSANA CORONA
Madrid just celebrated its famous annual International Tourism Fair (FITUR 2018) this month and in the midst of it all, Cuba was bestowed the Excelencia Award for “Safest Country”, a title that was handed to Cuba’s Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero, who also heads the island’s delegation in the fair this year.
The award was received with a round of applause by those present, which included major tour operators and hoteliers with a big presence in Cuba, such as the Spanish hotel chains Melia Hotels International and Iberostar, as well Canadian group Blue Diamond. The latter has grown at an incredible pace over the past few years in Cuba, with a portfolio of 17 properties islandwide (namely in Havana, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Santa Maria, Jibacoa and Holguin).
But Spain has the strongest presence in Cuba when it comes to the number of hotels operated by Spanish hotel chains. The biggest Spanish hotel operator in Cuba (and also the oldest) is Melia, with a total of 31 properties scattered throughout the island (Havana, Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin and Santiago de Cuba) and plans for further expansion.
Iberostar has also been increasing its presence in Cuba over the last couple of years, with a total of 13 properties in cities and beach resorts (Havana, Trinidad, Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cayo Ensenachos and Cayo Guillermo) and the 50s legend Habana Riviera being its latest acquisition.
Celebrated from 17th to 21st January and inaugurated by King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, FITUR is Spain’s biggest, most important tourism fair, having received this year as many as 251, 000 visitors, a new all-time record. International participation also grew by 13 per cent in respect to the previous year.
Spain is an important source of incoming tourists for Cuba and last year the Spanish market grew by 10.5 per cent in the island according to a report released by the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR). During the celebration of FITUR 2018 it was revealed that Cuba would continue workings towards improving the diversification of its tourism product in 2018 while Spanish companies confirmed they would solidify and strengthen their presence in the island over the course of this new year.