Trinidad boasts four of the six principal tourist destinations in the province of Sancti Spíritus, in the center of the island. It is not only one of the best preserved colonial cities in the Caribbean, but also offers the beach at Ancón, one of the most popular on the southern coast of Cuba, as well as natural sites like Topes de Collantes and the Valle de los Ingenios, declared a World Heritage Site in 1988 by the United Nations Organization for Education, Science, and Culture (UNESCO), along with the city.
Its privileged location has made the area the perfect destination for circuit tourism, a modality in which Cuba is expanding, thanks to the variety of heritage cities throughout the country that can be visited.
Since its founding in 1514 as the Villa de la Santísima Trinidad, the region was an important center of the island’s sugar industry. Its plantations, mills, towers, boilers, mansions, and other constructions related to the sugar cane economy dotted the area, to become cultural and historical attractions today.
A JOINT EFFORT
This past year, according to Reiner Rendón Fernández, Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) representative in the province of Sancti Spíritus, 641,000 tourists visited the region, making for 1.85 million tourist-days considering both the state and private sectors together.
In this sense, the area is a national reference, having been able to link the two management forms harmoniously, both participating in all types of activities. More than a thousand contracts have been signed between the private sector and state travel agencies, and more than 100 between these agencies and private restaurants.
“To the degree that tourism expands, non-state activities increase in the area. Sancti Spíritus today has more than 3,015 private rooms, and the vast majority are in the city of Trinidad. Likewise, among the 185 restaurants in the province, 99 are private (popularly known as paladares),” Rendón explained.
Tourism is multi-sectorial and the participation of all is essential to be able to function effectively, the Mintur representative said, noting that many are involved, sharing this interest. Transportation providers and those linked to art and culture stand out among the many partners in the province.
The population participates actively in the leisure industry. This last year, 404,000 tourists stayed in private hostels here. This was achieved, however, with the support of products supplied by the extra-hotel state enterprise group Palmares.
“Outstanding among these are cafes and some 18 restaurants like the Jigüe, a franchise of Bodeguita del Medio, another Floridita, and a Yesterday Club. Currently, Palmares facilities have gained ground in the market and around 200,000 more tourists are added every year,” Rendón reported.
LONG TERM INVESTMENT
Trinidad is a cultural city, set among mountains, with the sea to enjoy as well. Its housing stock is well preserved in its original, heritage condition and all thanks to the efforts of many generations of residents, for centuries.
Fundamental to continuing efforts to preserve all the area’s assets is work as part of the Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, being implemented in Sancti Spíritus. According to Rendón Fernández, work will begin this coming year to update the tourist destinations of Topes de Collantes, and the cities of Sancti Spíritus and Yaguajay.
Likewise, relevant to tourist activity is the current Territorial and Urban Land Use Plan, which includes development of Fomento, a town located in the western part of the province’s central region. The city is looking to strengthen nature tourism in the area with excursions to the Escambray or Guamuhaya mountains, and promoting the region’s history with visits to one of the camps used by Che Guevara during the revolutionary war.
“This 2018, being completed in the province are 100 rooms; the Santa Ana complex is being developed, including a brewery; two plantation mansions that will have a lodging capacity of seven are being finished; and work is beginning on the Meliá Trinidad Hotel, which will have 400 rooms. This past June, work began on another 500 rooms that will be ready by the end of 2020,” the Mintur representative added.
Planned for the Ancón beach area are another 102 rooms in the so-called Brazilian cabins, and at the end of next year, work will begin on a 100-room hotel in the well-known Cuartel de Dragones, a Spanish colonial cavalry garrison, among the best preserved in the Americas.
The development plan also projects beginning work in the city of Sancti Spíritus, the second half of the year, including a 12-room colonial hotel in the city’s central historic district. Investment projects are also foreseen at the Plaza Hotel and the Don Florencio Hostel.
“The entire plan will allow that by 2030 we have 20,000 rooms in the province, of which 15,000 with be in state facilities, and some 5,000 in the private sector. We likewise have a golf course plan (two 18-hole courses), associated with a residential complex of 2,500 rooms.
“In terms of developing the nautical area, work is underway to increase berths at the Marina to 200. And foreseen next is the creation of other marinas, among them those conceived for the Boca area and Casilda Port, where the Ministry of Transportation will make important investments these next few years, to improve the cruise terminal,” the interviewee explained.
As a province, Sancti Spíritus has made a variety of investments in different sectors to allow for development in tourism, while preserving historic districts, heritage sites, and the region’s natural beauty. The non-state sector has been strengthened as well, and harmony achieved between these establishments and those of state enterprises.
Work is currently underway in different tourist destinations to improve the quality of services even more. While the opinions of experts and visitors alike confirm the good work being done, training to advance the sector continues.
As part of the Development Plan through 2030, work is projected to address the water supply, electrical energy, communications, and industrialization in the province. As positive results gradually become visible, notable is the example of agriculture, with progress being made in meeting the demand for food.
Within these long term plans, Trinidad continues to be one of the most important tourist destinations. In addition to its natural attractions and historic buildings, to be enjoyed here are the traditions, customs, and history that recently won the Trinidad the designation as a World Craft City, given the value of its artisan creations. A perfect blend where visitors can find fun, rest, and knowledge.