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Cuba Reaffirms Itself as Safe Tourist Destination

Point of View: How will the recovery of tourism in Cuba take place?

Photo: ©Peter Kovop58/123RF

The safety of a tourist destination is one of the primary attributes taken into account when making a travel decision, and in these times of pandemic this acquires a greater connotation.

Even before the first SARS-CoV-2 positive cases were registered in Cuba, the country had already designed and begun to implement a plan of measures to deal with Covid-19, based on conceptualizing a national strategy.

Recognized in the global sphere as a safe tourist destination, Cuba reaffirms itself by applying the Hygiene and Safety Protocol against Covid-19, which contains the measures that every traveler who visits it must know. Its objective is to establish the guidelines for the reopening and continuity of hotel and complementary tourist services in the new scenario.

The Hygiene and Safety Protocol establishes regulations such as: mandatory physical distancing and use of a mask; washing and disinfecting hands and surfaces; daily health and temperature controls for tourists and workers; and clinical epidemiological surveillance in hotels with the presence of medical personnel 24 hours a day.

Travelers are required to have a negative PCR test result, performed 72 hours before the trip and certified by laboratories in the countries of origin; on arrival, they are given another test, free of charge. They must travel with an insurance policy that covers Covid-19 or acquire it when entering, at the airport, for USD 30 or its equivalent.

Cuba has implemented institutional quarantine for international travelers. For foreigners and non-resident Cubans, this retreat is made in designated hotels in Havana, Varadero, Santa Clara, Ciego de Ávila, Camagüey, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba; the packages, which are financed by the visitors, include accommodation for five nights in Plan AP and transfer from the airport. The stay is extendable, but the guest will have to again undergo a PCR test, at a cost of USD 30 or its equivalent.

In case of presenting any respiratory symptoms, travelers should contact the hotel’s health staff; if they were positive for Covid-19, they would be transferred to a hospital or a hotel hospital, depending on the evolution of the disease. Contacts of positive cases will remain in the hotel, in quarantine.

If when returning to their country of origin travelers need to carry a COVID-19 test with them, they can do it for the aforementioned cost, at the Siboney and Camilo Cienfuegos international clinics or the Pedro Kourí Institute of Tropical Medicine (IPK), if they are in Havana; in the rest of the country, they can do so at the provincial branches of Cuban Medical Services (SMC).

In order to guarantee the health and safety of tourists and workers in the sector, the ministries of Tourism and Public Health, in accordance with what has been ruled by the world organizations of Health and Tourism, have conceived the Tourism + Hygienic and Safe Certification (T+HS) that is granted to tourist establishments that comply with the strict hygiene and sanitary protocols established—to date, 2,537 have been certified.

In the transition to a new normal, with five vaccine candidates, Cuba is the only country in Latin America and the Caribbean that is developing its own Covid-19 vaccines: Soberana 01, Soberana 02 and Soberana Plus, from the Finlay Vaccine Institute, as well as Abdala and Mambisa, from the Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, and it hopes to vaccinate its entire population and export to other countries by the end of the year.

“Generating confidence in those who visit us and meeting the new requirements in terms of hygiene, health and safety are priorities of tourism in Cuba,” is the destination’s express vocation.

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