Interview: The Republic of Cuba

OTDYKH Leisure team continues to work with partners and clients during the coronavirus crisis. We are undertaking a series of short interviews with international tourism boards on their experience, forecasts, recent updates and tips during forced isolation.

As part of our interview series, Mr. Juan Carlos Escalona, Tourism Adviser at the Embassy of the Republic of Cuba in Russia , shared his experiences with our team.

Juan Carlos, how are you today? In what format do you and your colleagues continue to work?

We are really quite sad about everything that is happening. Tourist flow growth rate from Russia to Cuba was very good. In 2020, before the restrictive measures started, the increase in tourist traffic was 47% compared to the same period in 2019. While the increase for the same period in 2019 compared to the previous year was 30%.

By order of the government, we are currently at home. Everyone is at home in Cuba as well. But we haven’t lost an ounce of optimism! We know that we will come out of this situation stronger, more joyful and experienced.

It’s important now not to cut off communication with partners and clients. How do you continue promoting your destination in a situation where borders are closed and work is remote? Could you share some advice?

Thanks to the Internet, tour operators, ANTOR and ATOR colleagues, and friends on social networks, we can maintain limited communication, but acceptable for the current conditions. We developed a small campaign based on the advertising line “Stay at home — take care of yourself and take care of others!”

Forecasts are now made very carefully, but still... According to your assessment at this time, when do you expect tourist flow recovery, including from Russia?

We believe that at best it will be possible to start restoring flows in late autumn and early winter of 2020.

However, since the borders closed, Cuba began preparing for reopening. Obviously, not all hotels will be open at the same time. Today, measures are being taken to repair and improve the hotel infrastructure. Even the beaches are being improved. For example, in Varadero, during the absence of tourists, more than 1 million cubic meters of sand is pumped to the beach.