Foto: Cimex.

Cuba: state tourist gastronomic centers reopen in Old Havana

Several state-owned gastronomic establishments located in the historic center of Havana, the main tourist pole of the capitalhave reopened their doors after the closure forced by the pandemic, according to information from Eph.

The state corporation that manages them, Cimex, announced this Friday on Facebook the reopening of establishments such as the historic Sloppy Joe’s, a legendary 20th-century Havana bar for its bohemia, its long bar and its famous clients, among whom the writer American Ernest Hemingway.

The Café del Oriente restaurant, the luxury cafeteria La Barca and the Casa del Queso also reopen.

The reopening comes after the two-year closure imposed by the pandemic and is part of the plans to reactivate the tourism sector, key to the national economy, after the blow caused by COVID-19.

From January 1 to March 31, 2022, 144,093 international visitors arrived in the Cuban capital, almost 33,000 more than in the same period of the previous year, although far from the 479,687 who were in the city in 2020, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) cited by the Spanish agency.

The most contributing source markets in the first quarter of this year have been the Cuban community residing abroad, and Europeans such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said this week that tourism operations in Havana still have “many reserves” and that the possibilities and potential of the sector are not being fully exploited.

“Now, intense marketing work is needed to take advantage of the progressive opening of international tourism,” said Marrero, who led the Tourism portfolio between 2004 and 2019.

Cuba, which reopened its borders last November after the pause forced by the pandemic, has its second largest source of foreign currency in tourism after professional services.

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The country’s tourism authorities have opted to maintain their forecast of receiving some 2.5 million tourists in 2022, after quadrupling the number of foreign tourists arriving in January, which rose, according to Ephto 134,661 compared to 35,842 in the first month of 2021, as published by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).

The Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) estimates that the visit of almost 2.5 million foreign travelers should contribute some 1,159 million dollars to the Cuban economy this year.


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