In light of Hurricane Irma, Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero arrived in Canada on Oct. 9 to update travel authorities and tour operators on both the state of Cuba and the recovery efforts on the ground.
In an exclusive interview with PAX, Minister Marrero stressed that Cuba is safe and is welcoming Canadian visitors with open arms. The majority of the coastal destinations are open for business as usual, which include the popular beach resorts of Havana, Varadero, Santa Lucia and Holguin. The three destinations that remain closed include Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo which will all be ready to receive tourists as of Nov. 1.
The Minister's visit to Canada was his first international trip since Hurricane Irma made landfall, showcasing the important role that Canadian tourism lends to Cuban culture.
"Canadians and Cubans have long enjoyed a bond of friendship and cooperation, and our decision to come here first is a reflection of that relationship," said Marrero. "With so many Canadians visiting us in Cuba every year, we felt strongly that Canadians should be the first to know how we’ve bounced back from Irma better than ever."
Minister Marrero told PAX that flooding is not an issue in Cuba, and that efforts are underway to make the Cuban resorts better than ever.
"It is important to note that we aren’t simply restoring these resorts: we’re making them even better," said Minister Marrero. "We’ll make sure that these properties are more than prepared in the event of another hurricane, and proactively upgrade the properties that were unaffected by the storm. Visitors to Cuba can expect the very best in service and safety."
The Cuba Tourism Board remains steadfast in their commitment to have 100 per cent of tourist destination and facilities up and running by the beginning of the winter travel season. The Tourism Board will continue to update Canadians—who constitute roughly 40 per cent of visitors to Cuba each year—as new information becomes available.