The Cuban tourism office for the Southern Cone is expectantly preparing for the coming high winter season, with the objective of increasing the flow of tourists from the region to the island, according to Latina Niurka Martínez, tourism specialist at the Cuban embassy in Argentina, from where operational and promotional work for regional markets (Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay) is carried out. Martínez emphasized that, as an acknowledgement of Cuba’s tourist offerings, organizers of the COPA Vacations Argentina Convention will hold the event in Cuba this September, in addition to the COPA Vacations Chile Convention in October. Martínez explained that these events will be hosted by the Gaviota group and take place in Havana and Cayo Santa María, north of the central province of Villa Clara, in order to promote this attractive beach resort destination. Projections for the winter season 2014-2015, take into account the particular conditions of each one of the six Southern Cone markets, where all travel operators and agencies are cooperating to achieve the same goal. Through the end of March, tourists from Southern Cone countries visiting Cuba totaled 74,538, representing a good performance in comparison to previous years. The goal is to improve conditions to increase this figure, stated Martínez. Scheduling and increasing flights by various companies which connect these countries with Cuba, in order to serve vacationers, is one of the key tasks undertaken by the tourist office for the Southern Cone in Buenos Aires. Martínez stated that flights by Ecuadoran airline TAME and Venezuelan Avianca have been recently added to routes traditionally covered by airlines; LAN; TACA; COPA and Cubana, with tempting offers for the winter period. In addition, the office is currently evaluating the feasibility of increasing the number of flights from Buenos Aires to handle the high tourist season from December through April. According to a report by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), from January-June 2014, Cuba received 1,660,055 tourists, representing an almost 4% growth in relation to the same period last year. The document also revealed a growing trend in Russian and Italian markets. (PL/AIN)