Interview with Abelardo Fernández Falero, president of the Cubasol S.A. Business Group.
Abelardo, considering that the group you preside over is a new entity in Cuba’s tourism system, as a preamble it would be convenient for you to explain to the readers of TTC how Cubasol is structured.
The Cubasol S.A. Business Group is a trading company of totally Cuban capital created on March 2, 2015 and since then it has been under the umbrella of the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba.
In the structure we have the experience of national enterprises devoted to the development and promotion of the non-hotel tourism activity – marinas, restaurants, nightspots, dolphinariums, golf courses, tourist transportation, shops and artistic shows, among other activities -, called Marlin S.A., Palmares S.A., Transtur S.A., Caracol S.A. and Turarte S.A. Also forming part of the group is a sixth enterprise, Cubagolf, which is in charge of the entire real estate development associated to tourist products.
You can find us in each space devoted to tourism on the island: beaches. Our products have been created to enjoy with the family and allow for “living Cuba through a unique experience.” The variety of offers we can provide distinguishes us.
What does the Group’s work consist of as a whole?
The Group has the responsibility of carrying out the functions of direction, coordination and control. Our mission consists in raising the quality levels these complementary installations offer to clients, national as well as international. We have the potential to position ourselves in the world of tourist services since we have personnel of proven professionalism, natural resources with a high level of conservation and a substantial support of the country’s authorities to incorporate the equipment and infrastructure according to the best practices in the Caribbean region and the world.
Along that same line we prioritize the integration of the offers that today are provided, seeking to strengthen the values and attractions of the destination.
Cubasol assumes the responsibility of the real estate development associated to marinas and golf courses, could you update us on these projects and the joint ventures created or in the process of being created?
Turning Cuba into a golf tourist destination is one of the aspirations of the Ministry of Tourism as the principal promoter, and Cubasol is working for this in the implementation of the policies and strategies that guarantee the success of these businesses that would attract a high-standard market segment.
Today we have new projects in the making, in the western, central and northeastern regions; one recently approved, the El Salado Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, located to the northeast of the province of Artemisa, which is at the construction stage; and three created joint ventures: Bellomonte, S.A., to the east of Havana; Carbonera, S.A., in the province of Matanzas, close to the Varadero tourist destination; and Punta Colorada, S.A., in the province of Pinar del Río.
The structure of these tourist developments in general present as a concept: golf courses, practice courses, club houses, SPA, golf and beach hotels, real estate units (villas and apartments), marinas and sports, commercial and service areas.
The projects that today are in the preparation stage are the following:
-La Güira Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, located in the province of Pinar del Río, in the municipality of Consolación del Sur.
-La Altura Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, in the territory known as La Altura, in the municipality of Bahía Honda.
-Boca de Camarioca Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, in the Havana-Matanzas-Varadero tourist corridor.
-Rancho Luna-Pasacaballos Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, to the southwest of the province of Cienfuegos and the access channel to the Bay.
-Punta Barrera Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, to the east of the Rancho Luna sector.
-In Cienfuegos there is also a real estate development associated to a marina, located in the Punta Gorda/Playa Alegre tourist sector.
-Playa Inglés Tatagua Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, to the southeast of the province of Cienfuegos, in the municipality of Cumanayagua.
-Chorrera-Ancón Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, in the Trinidad tourist subregion, toward the south on the Ancón highway.
-Loma Linda Golf Real Estate Tourist Complex, in the Northern Coastline of Holguín tourist subregion.
How does the Group plan to face the current demand for tourist transportation, as well as its growth according to the forecasted increase in the arrival of visitors to the destination?
Transtur is carrying out a program for the renovation and expansion of the tourist transportation capacities, with the aim of guaranteeing its clients’ comfort and safety in the transfers. The large-size buses to the motorcycles, bicycles and tourist trains, which also form part of the catalogue, have been prepared to assume the volume of clients coming from organized and individual tourism visiting the island.
We are immersed in the updating of the vehicle park set up for rental with luxury cars of world renowned trademarks and economic jeep vehicles, to meet the diverse tastes. We are also working in the consolidation of products like the Bus Tour which with its panoramic views and animation is winning over followers of all ages.
What is the strategy to diversify and expand the nautical products portfolio and especially develop the international marinas?
The Marlin Marinas and Nautical Centers offer a wide spectrum of nautical services: life on board, sports fishing, scuba diving, kayaking, the newly added kite surfing and seafaring excursions.
Since renovation is a constant feature in what our workers do, Marlin is preparing its five international marinas to place them on the same level of the region’s best standards, for which there are plans for new investment projects; we have included in the foreign investment business opportunities portfolio the Santiago de Cuba and Varadero international marinas.
Worthwhile highlighting are the exchange opportunities created by their events. These are the cases of the Hemingway International Tournament, which next 2018 will take place May 21-26; the tournaments held in Varadero and the keys to the north of Ciego de Avila; as well as the Fotosub underwater photography event carried out on the Isla de la Juventud.
There is an evident change of image in the beach nautical points, which during last summer have been added color and life and have come to stay with renovated equipment and the expansion of its offers.
Are the shows of Cuba’s most famous cabarets on international stages still being contracted?
Right now work is underway in several projects which are at different negotiation stages. Tropicana, the most renowned Cuban show, is preparing tours in the United States, Canada, and Spain. The Asian continent is joining the long list of those interested in our portfolio with requests for productions in Vietnam of the Tropicana Cabaret shows and, in Singapore, of the prestigious Parisien Cabaret cast.
In all these cases the negotiation is assumed by the Turarte Agency for Artistic Shows, which has a wide-ranging catalogue of artists in diverse manifestations and the bases to offer artistic technical advice and producing wardrobes.
With the experience of the more than two years of Cubasol’s creation, which elements can be discerned as your principal strong points?
The fundamental reaffirmed strengths of Cubasol are the integration of the principal non-hotel enterprises that provide tourist services; the absolute trust in its principal asset, human resources, formed by more than 20,000 highly trained workers with a sense of belonging; and a network of outlets that covers the entire national territory.
The privilege of having the products that move travelers to choose Cuba as their vacation destination gives us great pleasure; at the same time the constant renovation and updating represent challenges for the Group, as well as providing a higher quality service, turning each space into a point of communications with our clients.
According to the perspectives and projections of tourism in Cuba, which are the Group’s challenges and perspectives?
We have many challenges. We are currently immersed in the launching in the market of products with a higher level of specialization that make it possible to attract higher-standard segments, like golf, adventure tourism and nautical centers; and to insert ourselves into the new information and communication technologies as an essential way to reach clients.
We are also giving special attention to the services we provide to the travel agencies when cruise ships arrive, like the transfers and the enjoyment of the Palmares installations, whose offers and recreational, gastronomic and events organization services promote Cuban history, culture and nature. The Canopy in Viñales and the Valle de los Ingenios, the Chocolate House in Varadero and La Bodeguita del Medio in Holguín and Santiago de Cuba were added to its portfolio, the latter to be soon opened like the new beer factory in Varadero.
Caracol, a powerful network of shops positioned in the principal destinations and zones of tourist interest, allows us to promote the Cuba image in each souvenir or token of remembrance the friends that visit us take away with them. Moreover, its Havana Cigar Houses and those specializing in rum and coffee are increasingly winning over more followers. The development of this enterprise will make it possible to turn Cuba into a destination for purchases.
The perspective of getting to be a Group of obliged reference in Cuban tourism, which is distinguished by quality and professionalism of the services it provides, and that the tourists who visit us as well as the nationals live with Cubasol and its enterprises an unforgettable experience.