Cuba ready to welcome more Cambodian tourists to Caribbean

 Monday, July 4, 2022 

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The Cuban government looks forward to welcoming more Cambodian tourists to visit the beautiful Caribbean island nation. This is because COVID-19 pandemic waning down and the global travel industry on its way to revival.

A few days ago, the Cuban Embassy in Phnom Penh organised a gathering with the local travel association, presenting Cuba as a destination of choice for travellers from Cambodia.

The event brought together Cuban Ambassador to Cambodia Liurka Rodriguez Barrios and key leaders and stakeholders of the Cambodian tourism industry led by Sivlin Chhay, President of Cambodia Association of Travel Agents (CATA).

This was the second such event hosted by the Cuban Embassy since November 2021.

Tourism is one of our biggest sources of revenue and one of the most important industries in Cuba.

They would like to continue this to promote Cuba as a tourism destination for Cambodians and foreigners residing here, the Cuban Ambassador stressed.

He also indicated that similar gatherings are planned for the next few months. Also, present were dignitaries of various travel organisations.

The event started with a presentation by the Cuban envoy, followed by a Q&A and a lunch featuring Congri, Yuca con mojo and other well-known Cuban dishes.

The presentation included a promotional video showcasing the top tourist destinations in Cuba, including Varadero, Vinales, Santiago de Cuba and Jardines dela Reina, which is often referred to as “Cuba’s Coral Garden”.

Among the popular destinations for international tourists are Old Havana, Playa Paraiso, Caya Coco, Che Guevara Mausoleaum, Baracoa and Cienfugos.

Colonial architecture, classic cars and sites related to the Cuban Missile Crisis, Castro brothers and Ernest Hemingway have also drawn tourists to Cuba in the past.

Gareth Johnson, co-founder of an international travel agency also discussed his experience bringing tourists to Cuba since the early 2000s.

During the Q&A session, the Cambodian attendees raised some issues related to logistics, distance and challenges of travelling from Cambodia to Cuba and vice versa.

Chhay Sivlin of CATA noted the far distance between the two countries and the long time it takes to travel to Cuba.

Cambodia is 16,000 kilometres (9,941 miles) from Cuba. Travelling there entails stopovers either in the United States, Canada, Russia, France and other countries with direct flights to Havana.

Because of such challenges, not many Cambodians have visited Cuba and vice versa through the years.

Ambassador Rodriguez explained that it has become easier to travel to their country ever since US President Joe Biden last month lifted a series of restrictions on flights to Cuba that were introduced by former President Donald Trump in 2019 and 2020.

The restrictions were part of the ongoing US Embargo of Cuba, which was first imposed in the early 1960s. The embargo, save for some exemptions, restricts trade and prevents Americans from travelling to Cuba.

Colombia, Mexico and other countries in South America, North America Central America and the Caribbean were mentioned as side destinations for people who want to travel to Cuba.

This meeting will help us be able to promote Cuba and we look forward to doing this over the coming years as the world gets back to normal, the CATA President said, adding that a familiarisation or FAM trip of Cuba for Cambodian travel agents is also underway.

Cambodians only need to apply for a Tourist Card online in order to visit Cuba.

Cuba, where more than 90 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, has already lifted all COVID-19 related restrictions, a report on a travel website revealed.

More than 2.5 million tourists are expected to visit Cuba this year, according to a report in a news media.

Cambodia and Cuba established diplomatic relations in 1960. Since then, the two countries have maintained relations in the areas of trade, politics, education, culture, sports and health.

Cuba has an ongoing scholarship programme for Cambodian students. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has also visited Cuba several times and met with Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1999.

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