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TTC Special. Guanahacabibes Peninsula: a Cuban “tourism secret weapon”

TTC Special: Guanahacabibes Peninsula: a Cuban "tourism secret weapon"

María la Gorda beach. Photo: eastfrisian/123rf

By F. Martin

TTC Service.- Cuba has a magic piece to build its cruise season 2017 named the Guanahacabibes Peninsula, the westernmost point on the island, located in Pinar del Río Province, in the municipality of Sandino a region sparsely populated.

The waters surrounding the peninsula are important spiny lobster and red snapper fishing grounds. It also boasts the category of Biosphere Reserve, listed by UNESCO in 1987.

For the Cuban tourism industry, the island’s most remote peninsula is a masterpiece ready to receive international cruises. The wild place of almost virgin nature became in recent years a favorite stop for ships of several international companies, some Americans.

Data available in Havana indicate that in the season 2016-2017 Guanahacabibes was visited by 89 boats. Cuban forecasts affirm that the number of ships that arrive to the peninsula will be much greater in the season 2017-2018.

The peninsula, something like a “tourist secret weapon” for the authorities of that industry in the island, expect large ships and small yacht, despite the dangers of storms and actions against tourism on the island that could come from Washington under the Republican government.

According to Cuban officials are already frequent the arrivals to the peninsula of large cruises, of about a thousand passengers. One of the projects of the tourism industry in Cuba is to make of Guanahacabibes a “unique” port on the island. This means that for certain cruises there would be only one port of arrival in Cuba, the remote peninsula.

TTC Special. Guanahacabibes Peninsula: a Cuban "tourism secret weapon"

International diving center of María la Gorda. Photo: courtesy of Gaviota Tourism Group.

The place is subjected to special care of its environment. The arrival to land is not done through a pier, but via smaller boats that take visitors to the international diving center of María la Gorda.

Some international cruise companies have already announced its Cuban season.

Cruise giant Carnival announced last August that has added five more sailings to Cuba for 2018, citing strong demand for voyages to the island nation.

Three of the new departures are five-day trips that include an overnight stay in the Cuban capital of Havana as well as a stop in Cozumel, Mexico or Key West, Fla. They begin on Feb. 17, July 2 and Sept. 5, 2018.

The other two departures are a six-day sailing featuring Havana and a stop in Grand Cayman that begins on Aug. 26, 2018; and an eight-day voyage with stops at Havana, Grand Cayman and Cozumel that begins on Aug. 18, 2018. The eight-day trip includes two full days in Havana.

All of the cruises will begin in Tampa and take place on Carnival’s 2,052-passenger Carnival Paradise. Carnival kicked off cruises to Cuba for the first time in June. The line initially announced plans for 12 sailings to the country through May 2018. Carnival is one of half a dozen cruise lines that have begun sailing from the USA to Cuba in recent months.

Cruise lines began planning the voyages more than a year ago after the Obama administration loosened rules on travel to Cuba. President Trump tweaked the rules in June but not in a way that is expected to have a significant impact on cruises to the country.

At least for the time beign.

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