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It’s official: Cuba wants more Cambodian tourists


Photo: courtesy of Mintur

The Cuban government wants more Cambodian tourists to visit the Caribbean Island nation, with the Covid-19 pandemic waning down and the global tourism industry on its way to full recovery.

A few days ago, the Cuban Embassy in Phnom Penh organized a gathering with the local travel association, presenting Cuba as a destination of choice for travelers from Cambodia.

The event brought together Cuban Ambassador to Cambodia Liurka Rodriguez Barrios and key leaders and stakeholders of the Cambodian tourism industry led by Sivlin Chhay, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA).

This was the second such event hosted by the Cuban Embassy since November 2021.

Tourism is one of our biggest sources of revenue and one of the most important industries in Cuba. We would like to continue this to promote Cuba as a tourism destination for Cambodians and foreigners residing here,” the Cuban Ambassador stressed, indicating that similar gatherings are planned for the next few months.

Also present were Ho Vandy, Managing Director of World Express Co., Ltd., Hem Chanly, Managing Director of Hola Travel Cambodia Co., Ltd., Lav Heng, President of VLK Travel, and Sambath Chhoun of V2 Group.

The event started with a presentation by the Cuban envoy, followed by a Q&A and a lunch featuring Congri, Yuca con mojo and other well-known Cuban dishes.

The presentation included a promotional video showcasing the top tourist destinations in Cuba, including Varadero, Vinales, Santiago de Cuba and Jardines dela Reina, which is often referred to as “Cuba’s Coral Garden”.

Old Havana (Habana Vieja), Playa Paraiso, Cayo Coco, Cienfuegos, Baracoa and Che Guevara Mausoleum are also popular destinations for foreign visitors. Colonial architecture, classic cars and sites related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro brothers and Ernest Hemingway have also drawn tourists to Cuba in the past.

Gareth Johnson, co-founder of the international travel agency Young Pioneer Tours, also discussed his experience bringing tourists to Cuba since the early 2000s.

During the Q&A session, the Cambodian attendees raised some issues related to logistics, distance and challenges of travelling from Cambodia to Cuba and vice versa.

Chhay Sivlin of CATA noted the far distance between the two countries and the long time it takes to travel to Cuba.

Cambodia is 16,000 kilometers (9,941 miles) from Cuba. Traveling there entails stopovers either in the United States, Canada, Russia, France and other countries with direct flights to Havana.

Because of such challenges, not many Cambodians have visited Cuba and vice versa through the years.

Ambassador Rodriguez explained that it has become easier to travel to their country ever since US President Joe Biden last month lifted a series of restrictions on flights to Cuba that were introduced by former President Donald Trump in 2019 and 2020.

The restrictions were part of the ongoing US Embargo of Cuba, which was first imposed in the early 1960s. The embargo, save for some exemptions, restricts trade and prevents Americans from travelling to Cuba.

Jose Rodriguez T. Senase / Khmer Times


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