Interview with Igor García Rodríguez, Tourism Counselor of the Cuban Embassy in Germany
Counselor, what factors or circumstances have led to the decline of the German market as an issuer to Cuba?
In 2018 Cuba registered a record with the arrival of 4,723,280 visitors; this year a growth of 5.1 million visitors is projected.
Germany ranks fourth among the main markets and is the first in Europe, with the arrival of 208,507 visitors in 2018. It is true that in recent years there has been a tendency to decrease, due largely to the slots Air Berlin left empty when it went bankrupt, which caused a significant drop in seats to Cuba.
We can also add to this the mistaken image that still exists about the damages caused by Hurricane Irma, which hit the country in September 2017 and from which Cuba recovered in record time; and, finally, we can add the excellent summer weather in Germany that affected long-distance travel.
It is known that several commercial and promotional actions are being implemented with a view to the market’s recovery, could you mention the most relevant ones?
We are currently working on various commercial and promotional actions, looking for new alternatives of how to reach the final client (B2C) through the most important press and communication media in the market. It will be published abroad seeking visibility and coverage in the main German cities, with large-format images to obtain a high impact in the target market. Digital media will also be used through videos, images, advertisements and display banners, whose impacts will be evaluated through Click Through Rate (CTR).
Cuba’s and its associates’ hotel chains, tour operators and travel agencies that market Cuba, the airlines that operate the destination and Germany’s Tourism Office are involved in all these actions.
Also this year there will be three megafams to Cuba in which more than 500 travel agents and the media will participate, with the objective of training and updating them on the development of tourism in Cuba and so they can familiarize themselves with the destination: the first will be in March, organized by FTI, on the eve of this summer’s inaugural flight to the city of Santa Clara, from München (March 18) and from Düsseldorf (March 22), with the aim of increasing tourism in the hotels of the northern keys of that province. The second belongs to Thomas Cook, in April, in Holguín, to promote all of eastern Cuba. The third will be made by Der Touristik, in the last months of the year, after the 500th anniversary of the Cuban capital city, Havana, aimed at the west of the country, mainly the Havana and Varadero destinations.
Which are the main tour operators that contribute volume to Cuba’s marketing from Germany?
The main tour operators that work the Cuba destination are Thomas Cook, FTI, TUI, Der Touristik, Tropicana Touristik and Schauinsland.
What is the Cuban delegation taking to ITB 2019?
The Cuban delegation participating in the ITB 2019 fair will present a renovated tourist product, with new and attractive offers, which goes beyond traditional sun and beach tourism and extends to eastern Cuba with elements of culture, heritage, history and nature.
It will be present with a guaranteed circuits offer, highly appreciated by German tourists, with a favorable value-for-money ratio.