After a seven-month hiatus for the COVID-19 pandemic, Cuba this Thursday reopened to international tourism its most famous resort, Varadero, and most of its airports, except Havana.
The capital, the main gateway to the Caribbean island and the only terminal in which US airlines can operate due to recent sanctions from Washington, has not yet officially entered the “new normal” stage in force in much of the country and has not yet announced a date for the restart of flights.
Meanwhile, about 150 kilometers east of Havana, the resort of Varadero is now ready to welcome international visitors, who should start arriving next week on flights from the UK, Germany and Russia.
The German company TUI, the world’s largest tour operator, and the Condor airline, have already confirmed that they will take up their operations with this Caribbean destination.
The paradisiac Hicacos peninsula will be the first point of the big island to which foreign tourists will be able to return, who since last July could already visit Cuba, but with stays limited to the keys to the north and south of the archipelago and temporarily prohibited to Cubans to avoid coronavirus outbreaks.
During this partial opening, the visitors who have arrived were mainly Canadians, although with a lower influx than expected, probably due to the fact that in Canada, there is the quarantine upon re-entry rule into the country, which discourages travel.
The local authorities assure that the Juan Gualberto Gomez airport in the resort, considered the second in importance in the country for its income and traffic, has all the biosafety certifications.
Similar sanitary protocols will be followed by the more than 50 hotels in the spa, mostly managed by companies such as Spanish Melia, Iberostar and Globalia, and Canada’s Blue Diamond. Varadero, voted in 2019 the second best beach in the world according to TripAdvisor, is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Cuba.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced the closure of borders in April and it dealt a severe blow to the aspirations of the Caribbean island, which now seeks to take advantage of the high winter season to compensate part of the losses, supported above all by the proper handling of the health crisis.
With an accumulated of 6,062 positive for coronavirus, 93.7% recovered and 123 deaths in seven months, Cuba exhibits a favorable situation compared to the rest of the countries in the region.
The Cuban Government has assured that it will provide first-rate healthcare to tourists, who will have to undergo a PCR test at the border and will have medical follow-up until the result is obtained. Each hotel will also have a group of health workers who are alert to possible respiratory symptoms.
Since this Monday the 12th, a large part of Cuba entered a “new normal,” which includes the reopening of services and activities at full capacity, along with the restart of flights at almost all airports, except Havana and the central provinces of Ciego de Ávila and Sancti Spiritus.