Sunday, December 13, 2009

Cuba looks to net a million (Canadian)

Cuba looks to net a million (Canadian)
Snowbirds flock to the sun, sand, and sea of resorts such as Varadero
and Holguin
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Janie Robinson Special to the Star
Published On Sat Dec 12 2009


Cuba is expecting a record-breaking one million Canadians this winter.

Just over 800,000 Canadians visited Cuba last year. The first eight
months of 2009 have nearly matched those numbers – a whopping 14 per
cent increase over the same period in 2008.

"Our goal to reach one million in 2010 is not that much of a stretch,"
says Jesus Garcia of the Cuba Tourist Board in Toronto. "Cuba is known
in Canada. We have the capacity, the market and the flights."

With WestJet adding Cuba as one of its new destinations, there are even
more flights this winter. There are now six Canadian carriers flying
into all 10 Cuban international airports.

Cuba is second only to Mexico on Canadians' list of Caribbean
favourites, according to the Cuba Tourist Board in Canada. Canadians
continue to flock to Cuba for a variety of reasons, and many of us are
repeat customers.

The Cuban Tourist Board says that the friendliness of the Cuban people
is listed first and foremost by their Canadian guests, followed by
feeling safe, cleanliness, and good health services.

Of course, Cuba offers all the usual Caribbean attractions we long for
on icy winter days – all-inclusive resorts on palm-fringed, white sand
beaches, jungle-covered peaks and pristine cays.

But unlike other fun-and-sun destinations, things seem less crowded in
Cuba, where we're not bumping elbows with our U.S. neighbours. The
chance that could soon change may see some Canadians choosing Cuba this
winter, before the anticipated "American invasion."

Proposed U.S. legislation to open up the island to American travellers
was introduced earlier this year. If passed, it would allow all
Americans to travel to the Caribbean island, ending a 47-year-old travel

With Canadians looking for easy getaways that are affordable and don't
require long-haul flights, last-minute booking deals again this winter
could certainly help Cuba reach the one million Canadians mark.

Varadero remains the No. 1 favourite of Canadians, according to the Cuba
Tourist Board. It has more than 60 all-inclusive hotels stretching along
the 20-kilometre silky-sand shoreline.

The sea and water sports are the lure by day, while the sexy rhythm of
Cuban music entices by night. And historic Havana is just a day trip away.

Christopher Columbus called Holguin the most beautiful place on Earth
when he spotted Cuba's picturesque northeastern coastline back in 1492.
He may have been the first tourist here, but Cuba's "ecotourism
destination" has now pulled into second place with Canadian travellers.

Beach-loving Canadians looking for seclusion fly to sunny Cayo Coco –
one in a string of tiny islands dubbed the "Cuban keys" strung off the
country's north coast. A 27-kilometre causeway now connects the tropical
keys to the rest of Cuba, but for most Snowbirds, the seclusion, sand
and surf is what Cayo Coco's all about.

Janie Robinson is a Barrie-based freelance writer. Her trip to Cuba was
subsidized by the Cuba Tourist Board.
Cuba looks to net a million (Canadian) - (12 December 2009)

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