Cuba and Russia have agreed to strengthen their ties in the tourism industry by resuming direct flights from Moscow to Varadero starting on July 1st. The CEO of Aeroflot, Aleksandrovsky Sergey, announced this measure during a bilateral business forum in Havana. There will also be a push for investment in hotel infrastructure on the island. These plans are part of the intention to strengthen the “strategic partnership” between the two countries in 2023.
During the pandemic, the Cuban tourism sector was severely affected, but Russian tourists alleviated the situation by increasing their travels in 2020 and 2021. However, in March 2022, this influx was abruptly interrupted due to the closure of European airspace following the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Chernyshenko mentioned that Russian companies are working on construction and remodeling projects for hotels in Cuba. Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz offered the possibility for Russian companies to manage and administer hotels on the island.
Furthermore, the possibility of expanding payment options in Cuba with the “Mir” card, the Russian equivalent of Visa and Mastercard, was discussed. Cuban Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos García expressed enthusiasm by stating that the arrival goals for Russian tourists will surpass expectations.
In the midst of the worst economic crisis in decades and shortages of food, medicine, and fuel, the Cuban government aims to attract 3.5 million foreign visitors in 2023. As of the end of March, the country had received 984,000 international visitors, led by Canadians, followed by Cubans living abroad and visitors from the United States.
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