Cuba: A destination for German tourism

Interview with Orlando Ramos Blanco, director of the Cuban Tourism Office in Berlin

By Daily Pérez Guillén

According to specialized travel sites, German tourists’ preferred vacation activities include visiting monuments and castles, tasting and buying regional products, riding bicycles and enjoying the sea. That said, Cuba appears an ideal destination for them, and judging by the statistics, there is hope. At the end of 2023, Germans ranked sixth among international visitors to the island, with the figure rising from 58,715 in 2022, to 69,475 German tourists last year.

“That trend of gradual and progressive recovery is also appreciable so far this 2024, in a period in which Germany has ranked fifth,” Orlando Ramos Blanco, director of the Cuban Tourism Office in Berlin, told TTC. He also noted the challenge of achieving an increase of about 26% compared to 2023 in the current year. “Of particular importance is the increase in the number of seats on Condor’s direct flights, starting with the introduction of the Airbus A330neo.”

With that objective in mind, a Cuban delegation headed by María del Carmen Orellana Alvarado, first deputy minister of Tourism, is set to attend ITB Berlin 2024. The delegation will also include representatives of national receptive operators, specialized travel agencies and the Cubanacán, Grupo Gaviota, Gran Caribe, Islazul and Campismo hotel chains; as well as international chains including Meliá, Iberostar, Muthus, Blue Diamond, Barceló, ROC, Kempinski, Archipelago, ATG and Valentín.

“This large and varied group will make it possible, first and foremost, to make visible the level of recovery, operability, vitality and validity of Cuban tourism in the largest forum of the global tourism industry. ITB Berlin 2024 will be the ideal framework to promote the benefits, richness, diversity and novelties of the island’s tourism product; with emphasis on combined programs, national circuits and the offers in other modalities such as nautical and historical-patrimonial, cultural, nature and MICE tourism.”

More than 180 travel destinations and the presence of tourism professionals, most of them top-level executives with purchasing power and decision-making capacity, will gather in the German capital between March 5 and 7.

“Undoubtedly, the main event to promote in this edition will be FITCuba 2024, the most important meeting of Cuban tourism, which will take place in Jardines del Rey from May 2 to 5 and will be dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean,” Ramos Blanco added.

ITB Berlin will also see the Caribbean island’s tourism industry promote recently opened or remodeled facilities—Hotel Grand Aston Varadero, Hotel Innside Catedral and Hotel Sevilla in Havana; Vila Galé Cayo Paredón, Meliá Trinidad Península in Trinidad and Sol Turquesa Beach in Holguín—and the new destinations of Cayo Paredón and Cayo Cruz, north of Ciego de Ávila and Camagüey, as well as the consolidation of Varadero and Jardines del Rey as leading Cuban tourist resorts.

“Given its international recognition, prestige among professionals in the sector, scope and the results of negotiations, the participation and visibility of the Cuba destination in this event are of great importance,” the director of the Berlin Tourism Office stressed.

At present, German travelers arrive in Cuba mainly aboard direct flights operated by Condor Flugdienst GmbH airline from Frankfurt airport to Varadero, Havana and Holguín. “The rest use regular lines with the inconvenience of having to make stopovers in some of the main European capital cities.” In that sense, “ITB Berlin 2024 is also an exceptional opportunity to hold meetings with the main executives of German airlines, which will make it possible to strengthen commercial relations and evaluate conditions for increasing the frequency of flights to the destination’s main tourist resorts.”