Havana, Sep 21 (EFE).- Spain’s Iberostar announced Tuesday that it will reopen 16 of the 17 hotels it operates in Cuba and will open another facility in Cayo Cruz between November and January 2022, within the context of Havana’s reopening of the island nation’s borders.
The director of marketing for the tourism and hotel group in Havana, Alexei Torres, told the press that during the firm’s new business phase it will maintain the appropriate health protocols and will establish a medical and epidemiological team at each hotel, among other measures.
He also announced the opening of the Coral Level Esmeralda Hotel in Cayo Cruz, located in the Jardines del Rey archipelago in the northern part of central Camaguey province, adding that the inaugural flight of the group’s World2Fly airline to connect Madrid and Havana will take place on Wednesday.
Iberostar thus joins Spain’s Melia company – both of which are based in Palma de Mallorca – which will also reopen its hotels in Cuba in November, when expectations are that the communist country’s anti-Covid-19 vaccination campaign will be well under way.
Since 1993, the firm has managed hotels in Havana, Cayo Largo del Sur, Varadero, Trinidad and the northern keys in the central provinces of Cilla Clara and Ciego de Avila.
In conjunction with Melia and another Spanish firm, Barcelo, Iberostar manages 70 percent of the rooms at state-run hotels on the island under contracts with the government in Havana.
The Caribbean country suspended commercial and charter flights in April 2020 to try and halt the spread of the coronavirus and last October it reopened the country’s airports, albeit with a minimum number of flights from the United States, Mexico, Panama, The Bahamas, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
Before the pandemic, tourism represented the second-biggest source of foreign revenue for Cuba, following only the sale of professional services abroad, accounting for about 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
Cuba welcomed 225,417 foreign tourists and travelers between January and May, almost two million fewer than during the same period in2020, according to the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI).
The island nation is hoping to welcome about 4.5 million international visitors in 2020 and reverse the 9.3 percent drop in tourists in 2019, when 4.2 million tourists visited Cuba, 436,352 fewer than in 2018, according to government figures.