Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cuba’s Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism

Cuba's Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism
September 19, 2014
Fabian Flores (Café Fuerte)

HAVANA TIMES — The Grupo Gaviota, one of the pillars of the commercial
chain operated by Cuba's Armed Forces, has launched an aggressive
campaign to attract Chinese tourists to Cuba.

The Cuban government is laying its bets on the mid-term potential of the
Chinese tourism market, today the top source country (reporting 100
million travelers every year)

The number of Chinese tourists that travel to the island is
infinitesimal when compared to other destinations (a mere 22,218 Chinese
travelled to Cuba last year), despite the 100 % growth experienced since
2008. China ranks 15th among the island's tourism source countries.

Courting the Chinese

According to a report issue by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MINREX),
a delegation of the Grupo Gaviota company headed by general manager
Ileana Pilar Martinez traveled to China at the beginning of September
and held a meeting at the Cuban embassy with the three agencies that
were the main sources of Chinese tourism to the island in 2013.

Martiez invited the Chinese companies to assess the possibility of joint
ventures in the tourism sector, from the building of hotels to the
creation of golf courses.

The visit to China by Gaviota representatives coincided with the
launching of a six-minute promotional video (below), with Chinese
subtitles, about Cuba's touristic charms.

By the close of the year, the Grupo Gaviota S.A. will operate 55 hotels,
12 of them in the Varadero beach area, for a total of 29,400 rooms. The
company is also planning the development of marinas and a range of other
tourist facilities.

Chinese Food

The expansion of the Gaviota Varadero Marina, expected to become Cuba's
largest and most modern facility of its kind (with a mooring capacity of
1,200 vessels), will be completed next year.

The first Cuba-China forum was held in Havana last year. It was aimed at
the promotion of Cuban products that could contribute to an increase in
Chinese tourism.

At the forum, there was talk of raising the number of Chinese visitors
to the island to 100,000 a year. The Chinese ambassador in Havana, Zhang
Tuo, went as far as predicting "a sea of Chinese tourists for the near

Some of the issues to be addressed in order to encourage more visits to
Cuba from China are the scarce availability of Chinese food on the
island, the training of tourist guides who speak Mandarin and the search
for better flight connections between the two countries.

Source: Cuba's Military on the Hunt for Chinese Tourism - Havana -

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