Interview With Dalila Alba González, Marketing Deputy General Director Of The Cuban Ministry Of Tourism.
The most important event organized by the tourist industry in Cuba, the International Tourism Fair, in its 37th edition has Germany as country guest of honor, a market of special relevance for the Cuba destination. Dalila Alba González, marketing deputy director of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, gives details about the latter and about FITCuba.
Dalila, what has been the performance of tourism in Cuba in 2017 to date?
Up until February the visitors plan was exceeded by 9.5% and grew 13.6%. This progression was backed by the increase of the traditional markets of Europe, North America and Latin America. A very satisfactory result obtained in this stage was the arrival of the first million visitors on March 4, a week before the previous year.
It would be interesting for you to refer to the principal projections of Cuban tourism for 2017 and the next winter season.
Faced by a favorable scenario, it is up to us to assume new challenges. Thus, we have planned to exceed the number of visitors in 2016, which involves attracting the attention of 4.2 million visitors and consequently we also expect an increase in the incomes obtained by the industry. We are already concentrating in organizing actions that will allow us to reach the planned growth, which is why we are implementing in our principal and developing markets an aggressive marketing and promotion plan about Cuba’s different attractions as a tourist destination.
The priority of today’s tourism is to achieve a superior quality service, for which coordinated work is underway with other sectors with a view to guaranteeing the demand with competitiveness, together with the creation of new and better tourist products.
Strengthening new tourist modalities are also priorities for the sector, like scuba diving and nautical activities, cultural, events and incentives, nature, health and quality of life tourism; generalizing the use of information and communication technologies, consolidating the non-state tourism as well as improving in all senses the tourist infrastructure.
Our greatest commitment is offering all those who visit us the highest quality, hospitality and professionalism, showing them the authentic Cuba that every day is being developed and perfected as a destination “of peace, health and safety.”
What importance does the German market have for Cuba?
The German market is extremely important for the Cuba destination. In 2016 it headed the list of the European issuers with an outstanding growth of 38.3% with respect to the previous year due to the arrival of more than 242,355 visitors. Therefore, we can say that a relevant part of the increase Cuba registered as a tourist destination last year was influenced by the results of Germany, which in this 2017 continues among the first issuers of tourists to the destination.
It is an all-time market for Cuba, which has been worked since the country decided to develop its tourist industry. German visitors seek multidestination in the Caribbean nation, not just the sun and beach that make it outstanding for other markets, rather they also prefer other values like culture, the heritage cities, nature. That is to say, that through the circuits modality – which is no more than a sort of tour through a great deal of the country – they have the possibility of getting to know in depth the Cuba Destination.
An example that confirms the transcendence of this market for our country is the fact that the International Tourism Fair is dedicated to it and will also focus its attention on the circuits modality because of the German tourists’ preference for this product.
What are FITCuba 2017’s special features?
The eastern province of Holguín has been chosen as the venue. This territory stands out for being a very complete destination because of its sun and beach offer as well as for its rich culture. This is so much so that the fair is happily coinciding with an important popular celebration which is the Romerias de Mayo, which will allow the participants to live the experience of that important cultural fiesta.
The program of activities includes promotion and marketing work, as well as a space for the presentation of business opportunities in the Cuban tourist industry.
It will also be a favorable moment for the participants in the event to visit the town of Gibara, with a very interesting heritage and venue of the renowned No-Budget Film Festival held in Cuba, now the International Film Festival.
Which have been the principal promotion actions for the German market?
The Cuban Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Counselor in Germany, with the backing of our Embassy in that country, have plans based on a solid short-, medium- and long-term strategy, whose principal commercial objectives are: to continue consolidating the relations with the market’s principal operators; to expand air operations that allow for the connection with different destinations in the country through the establishment of annual flights, as was the case in 2016 of the new Air Berlin and Condor frequencies to the destination, as well as to prioritize the development of circuits.
As part of the promotion panorama the participation in the principal fairs of the market is maintained, of professional as well as of the great public (ITB, IMEX, Munich F.re.e. and Reisen Hamburg) and the implementation of the international Authentic Cuba publicity campaign in multiple supports and means.
In addition to the publicity we carry out as a destination, joint promotion – comarketing – is also carried out with the European country’s tour operators; familiarization groups have been organized for the press and travel agents so they can live the experience of the destination to later share it with potential clients.
We also have, through our representation in Germany, a page on Facebook dedicated specifically to that market and constantly updated with the principal attractions and novelties of the Cuban tourist industry; and I insist that the fundamental action has been the fact of dedicating to Germany the major tourist event held in Cuba.
The ITB Berlin International Tourism Market is an important prelude to FITCuba 2017, which were the principal results of the Cuban participation in that event?
ITB Berlin is an extremely important professional event. We attended with a wide-ranging delegation made up by hotel groups, travel agencies and other professionals with the aim of strengthening the ties with partner tour operators in Germany, the different airlines that connect that country to ours, and other professionals linked to the tourist industry.