Canadian airlines resume operations to Cuba

The Air Transat Canadian airline will resume its operations to Cuba on November 3 starting with the Holguin destination, an eastern province of Cuba.

On the Transat tour operator website, travellers can already make reservations for flights, with weekly departures from Montreal and Toronto.

For the 2020-2021 winter season, the company plans to add Varadero and Cayo Coco destinations.

Since July 1, the Cuban authorities have opened limited spaces to international tourism under strict sanitary protocols in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. On September 4 tourists from Canada, the main source of all foreign tourism, began to arrive on the island republic.

Several Canadian airlines already make trips to Cuba, which they affirm as a safe destination. To date there have been no reported cases of Covid-19 amongst Canadian visitors.

Meanwhile, Air Canada Vacations has announced an increase in its flights to Cuba, the island’s tourism counsellor in Ottawa, Carmen Casal, confirmed on its social networks.

On November 6, the company will make trips from Montreal to the resort of Varadero in Matanzas, and the next day it will fly to the same destination from Toronto, the executive reported.

Varadero is regarded by many as the most significant beach in Cuba, located about 140 kilometres east of Havana. Flights will be held regularly once a week.

Air Canada Vacations already makes trips to Cayo Coco, in the Jardines del Rey tourist centre in the northern centre of the Cuban archipelago.

Cuba, which before the COVID-19 pandemic received more than four million foreign visitors per year, suspended all tourism operations in March as a protective measure.

Seven months later, the hotels reopen their doors to serve travellers after obtaining a certification from the Ministry of Public Health to guarantee the health of customers.

Since October 15, all international airports in Cuba are open, with the exception of the Havana air terminal, which only operates for humanitarian and cargo flights, according to the Minister of Transportation, Eduardo Rodríguez.

According to Cuban ambassador Josefina Vidal on October 22 last, the sanitary or security protocols include restrictions on visitors to Varadero from leaving a limited tourist zone, into which Cuban citizens also cannot enter. It also thus means no possibilities of visits to Matanzas or Havana or anywhere else outside the restricted zone in the near future. No doubt this will change in time.

(With information from Prensa Latina)

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MATANZAS (October 26) — Staff at the beautiful Varadero beach resort, renowned worldwide for its natural attractions, addressed a few final details before welcoming their first international visitors of the season on October 25.

Tourism authorities and entities that contribute in some way to the performance of the sector, reviewed every aspect of plans to offer safe, hygienic, high quality services.

For this winter period, all facilities in the area have been certified to operate under conditions marked, at a planetary level, by the battle against COVID-19.

“At this stage of the pandemic, no lamentable transmission events in the tourism sector have occurred here, definitive evidence of the effort made by workers and management,” stated Ivis Fernández Peña, Ministry of Tourism representative in Matanzas.

She referred to the importance of protecting a sector of such weight in the national economy and assured that today in Varadero, one of the country’s most popular sun and sand destinations, a climate of total security, peace and hygiene reigns.

These are values that distinguish Cuban tourism and make our resorts among the most attractive and prestigious on the planet, she said, noting that the experience and professionalism of workers in the sector have been essential to adapting to the new scenario.

“Varadero is now open to the world with hygienic measures in place that guarantee the safety of customers, and provide better comfort in facilities,” she said.

Fernández noted that this reopening features new products in four hotel groups, as well as improvements and expansion of various services for tourists, responding to the most frequent concerns raised by visitors.

In particular, she commented, clients will appreciate progress made in the physical environment, communications, and other areas that have an immediate impact on the quality of services, both within hotels and extra-hotel facilities.

She specified that a series of measures have been implemented that allow internet connectivity via Wifi in all areas of hotel facilities, including the beach, one of the most common requests of visitors.

“On the list of good news appears the fact that, this winter season, all four and five star facilities among our hotels will be open, although, in this first stage, the numbers of international vacationers will be modest,” Fernandez stated.

She added that this would be the case given the logical uneasiness among travellers, caused by the new coronavirus around the world, but that visits should gradually increase as clients express appreciation of the warm welcomes, the friendly and professional attention, and secure health environment they enjoy in Varadero.

For experts in the field, the most important focus is to provide clients a safe, comfortable stay, to think innovation, with creativity and attention to detail, while emphasizing our Cuban identity.

Among renovations recently completed is the re-designed downtown boulevard, located between 62nd and 64th streets in the central historical district, a novelty with multiple and varied recreational and cultural attractions that should arouse the admiration of visitors taking a walk along the Playa Azul.

Other investment projects that confirm the development potential of the resort include capital repairs at the Plaza America Convention Center, Josone Park, known as Varadeo’s Green Jewel, and the Xanadu Mansion.

Juan Gualberto Gómez International Airport, the second most important in the country, was also ready to receive its first travellers, with all biosecurity measures established for COVID-19 in place, assured its general director José Antonio García Manso.

He noted that his confidence was based on a recent trial run of sanitary protocols at the airport, which include the administration of PCR testing by the facility’s health team to all crew members and travellers arriving at the terminal.

Intent on taking all precautions, routine processes have undergone dozens of adjustments, including “redesigning passenger routing, disinfecting surfaces and reducing the possibility of contact with doors, handles and physical barriers,” among other preventative measures, García reported.

Another group playing an important role in tourism here are transportation providers. According to Raul Enrique Cruz Hernandez, director of Transtur, drivers view this new stage as a challenge and are prepared to offer safe, quality service.

The fleet, including more than 400 vehicles, is one of the largest in the country at a single base and is able to assume the demands of the normally busy tourist season, he said.

The tourism sector in Varadero has made a special effort these last few months welcoming national clients to its installations, with attractive offers and services, and is opening its doors to the world, with the distinctive air that characterizes the resort, where hygiene is now the number one priority, while promoting the participation of national industry and continuing to defend excellence in all services.


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