Old Havana was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1982.

Customarily awaited in the first week of May is Cuba’s International Tourism Fair, scheduled this year to open its doors May 3, with special events dedicated to Canada, the country’s most important emissary market; to the city of Havana; and culture as a promising tourist option.

Speaking with Granma International, Janet Ayala, director of information for the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur), emphasized that the event will highlight Canada given its weight as a market, and serve to improve relations and build ties with tour operators, travel agencies, and other sector actors.

Culture and Havana will be reaffirmed, in the specialist’s words, as some of Cuba’s best offerings. “We are seeking to disseminate information about the important alliances made between national culture and tourism, and the interdependence they share. Toward this end, collateral events will be taking place in the city,” Ayala said.

Putting the spotlight on the capital, potential for enjoying the country’s heritage and notable cultural events, in a single stop, is evident.

Ayala explained that Havana, like few other cities around the world, has both beaches and wooded areas within a 20-minute drive. These assets make it a “multi-product which allows for the development of several types of tourism.”

The newly renovated Hotel Capri is another Havana hotspot. Photo: Juvenal Balán

From May 3-7, events at FitCuba will be shared in real time on the website, and in conjunction with the Ministry of Culture, artistic and cultural events will be presented throughout the fair, with the highlight being the inaugural gala in Havana’s Alicia Alonso Grand Theater.


As negotiations begin at the La Cabaña fairgrounds, the 36th International Tourism Fair, FitCuba 2016, will be officially inaugurated with a speech by Manuel Marrero, minister of Tourism, in the Hotel Habana Libre’s Ambassadors’ Hall.

According to organizers, this will be an opportunity to announce prospects and strategies for Cuban tourism, as well as new products and results which indicate that to be expected are continued growth in the number of tourist arrivals, and income for the country, which today surpasses two billion dollars a year.

Scheduled to join Marrero is his Canadian counterpart, Bardish Shagger, and Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the World Tourism Organization. Also programmed is the 15th Americas Commission, which will allow for visits to the Fair by many high level industry delegations.



The traditional site of FitCuba, the La Cabaña Fortress with its classic view of Havana’s Malecón, will host 300 Cuban representatives and as many as 3,000 from abroad. Ayala stated that the broad international participation is due to the many novelties to be announced, and the favorable context for negotiations.

In addition to Canada’s presence, expected are airlines, tour operators, communications media, hotel and transportation companies, service providers, suppliers, and other professional organizations from the island’s main emissary countries, including the UK, France, Italy, Mexico, Spain and the United States.

The expert reported that San Ambrosio Hall in the Cabaña will host presentations by Cuban enterprises, such as Gaviota S.A., Comercializadora de Servicios Médicos Cubanos S.A., and the hotel chains Cubanacán and Gran Caribe, as well as Viajes Cuba, which includes all national travel agencies.

The cruise industry is showing greater interest in Havana. Pictured is the Celestyal Crystal. Photo: Jose M. Correa

A Suppliers Fair, including more than 50 exhibitors and being held for the second time at FitCuba, will prioritize new technology applications for tourism, with an emphasis on the development of webpages and information networks. This event has been added to ensure a supply of essential equipment, foodstuffs, and furniture for leisure industry facilities, and will also feature a stand promoting foreign investment opportunities in Cuban tourism.

Addressing another issue, Ayala added that private lodgings and restaurants will also participate in FitCuba 2016, with exhibits and promotions of their services and products, noting that representatives from this sector are expected from Havana, Matanzas and Santiago de Cuba.

Lastly, the Mintur expert recalled that the final day of the Fair will be open to the public, with sales of tourist products, and a variety of recreational activities such as raffles, horseback riding, stilts, and other nature-related options.