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Dmitry Chernyshenko: Russia may become top country of origin for tourism in Cuba

RUSSIA, May 19 - Dmitry Chernyshenko takes part in a bilateral meeting on cooperation in tourism

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Chernyshenko took part in a bilateral meeting on cooperation in tourism during his working visit to the Republic of Cuba. The event was also attended by Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz and Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos Garcia Granda.

The meeting participants discussed measures to boost tourist flows, stimulate investment, and train personnel for the tourism industry. The Cuban officials expressed their willingness to provide assistance in the efforts to increase the number of Russian tourists visiting Cuba.

“Russia has historically been one of the four main countries that choose Cuba as a travel destination. During the pandemic, Russia was the leader as regards the number of inbound tourist arrivals in the country, with the maximum figure of 178,000 tourists per year. We would like to see the number reach 200,000 and then half a million tourists a year,” Juan Garcia Granda said.

Dmitry Chernyshenko noted that the reciprocal visa-free arrangement, with a maximum stay of 90 days within a 180-day period, as well as regular direct flights and friendly relations between the two nations, could serve as a strong basis for further cooperation.

“Through joint efforts, we can create the necessary conditions for increasing mutual tourist flows and achieving pre-pandemic figures as early as this year. A decision has been made to resume regular Moscow-Cuba flights. Russian tour operators are also expanding direct charter flights, with four flights per week to be launched to Varadero starting in June and two flights to Cayo Coco every ten days. We expect the total passenger numbers to reach some 150,000 people by late 2023. We support the intention of the Cuban Minister of Tourism to increase the number of Russian tourists to 500,000 travellers a year, which would allow Russia to top the list of countries of origin for tourism in Cuba, leaving Canada behind,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

He also asked the Cuban side to consider efforts to establish preferential measures for implementing Russian-Cuban projects in tourism and provide assistance in establishing direct contacts between investors who express an interest. As of today, Russian companies are involved in investment projects in Cuba, in particular, in hotel construction as well as the work to upgrade the existing infrastructure in order to create comfortable conditions for tourists. Given the expected growth in passenger traffic to Cuba, Russia is also interested in building an air terminal or receiving the rights to managing the existing terminal for servicing Russian travellers.

Dmitry Chernyshenko also suggested establishing a partnership between the International Tourism and Hospitality Competence Centre and the University of Havana. Their cooperation will allow for developing new educational products to help fully unlock the two countries’ tourism potential and train professionals for the industry.

“To this end, we invite representatives of the Cuban tourism industry to take part in major international events which are to take place in Russia in May and June this year: the Eurasian Economic Forum in Moscow, St Petersburg International Economic Forum, and the Russian Tourism Forum ‘Travel!’” Dmitry Chernyshenko concluded.

Russian participants in the bilateral meeting also included Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Cuba Viktor Coronelli, Deputy Director of the Department for Latin America at the Russian Foreign Ministry Andrei Guskov, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Vladimir Ilyichev, Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights and Chairman of the Russia-Cuba Business Council Boris Titov, Aeroflot General Director Sergei Aleksandrovsky, and Head of the Tourism.RF Corporation Sergei Sukhanov.

Based on the results of the meeting, the participants signed a number of agreements aimed at developing the tourism sector.