AREQUIPA, Peru – The reopening of the Canadian Consulate in the Varadero resort, one of two offices of its kind on the island, took place last week, as reported by the official Cuban media Cubadebate.
The Canadian Ambassador to Cuba, Geoff Gartshore, participated in the resumption of consular services, which will be effective not only for Matanzas but also for four other provinces in the central region of the country.
In a brief ceremony at the facility located on 21st Street of the renowned tourist hub, the diplomat commented that Canadians had enjoyed consular services in Varadero for over 30 years.
Gartshore announced that the new consul is Brian Paivo, who with his experience in tourism will continue the work to ensure that Canadians receive assistance from Varadero to Cayo Coco (Ciego de Ávila) and in all intermediate destinations.
“The reopening of consular services in Varadero, after about four years of inactivity, is a vital step for Canadians to have a guarantee of support in the country’s main destination,” said the new consul.
Also present at the ceremony were the vice-governor of Matanzas, Marieta Poey, and authorities from the Ministry of Tourism in the Caribbean nation.
According to figures collected by the the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI, by its Spanish acronym), around 940,000 tourists from Canada visited Cuba in 2023, and it is expected that in 2024, the number of visitors from Canada will reach over one million.
However, the tourist recovery on the island not only depends on visitors from North America, and, in that sense, the depressed sector has not yet even reached pre-pandemic figures.
The Cuban government aims to receive three million tourists in 2024, said the Minister of Tourism of Cuba, Juan Carlos García Granda, at the international tourism fair, Fitur, held at the end of January in Madrid.
During his participation in Fitur, García Granda reported that Cuba closed the year 2023 with 2.4 million visitors, pointing out that the hope of surpassing three million is insufficient when compared to the levels recorded in 2018. He emphasized that the current tourism activity represents less than 60% of that of those years, which he considered unsatisfactory.