ROME, Italy. – Miguel Díaz-Canel’s regime announced with great fanfare the reopening of the island to international tourism starting this November 15th, indicating that, starting on that day, foreign visitors would be welcomed to Cuba without need of additional PCR testing upon arrival or the required quarantine. However, in times of COVID-19, Cuba has become “a less attractive vacation destination for Italians,” according to Morgan Ivaldi, technical director of the “Cilindrina Viaggi” Agency.
This reopening “does not mean that the Italian government will allow Italian tourists to enter Cuba without observing the precautionary quarantine, which is still obligatory. I do not think that this opening will in any way influence our government to lift the quarantine requirement to Italians returning from Cuba.”
In fact, Cuba was not included in the list of safe countries, or COVID-19 free, issued by Italy’s minister of health, Roberto Speranza, effective as of this past September 30th. Aruba, Maldives, Mauritius, Seychelles, Dominican Republic, along with Sharm El Sheikh and Marsa Alam on the Red Sea are the tourist destinations that are ready to welcome travelers who will then be allowed to return to Italy without any particular restrictions.
The director of “Cilindrina Viaggi”, a travel agency headquartered in Genoa that specializes in South American destinations, explained that to Italians “Cuba was always a sought-after destination,” but because of the COVID-19 problem and political confrontations, ‘Cuba is [today] less attractive to Italians.”
What it the reason for this? The data collected by Marriott Bonvoy’s most recent research for its “Joy of Travel” report, which surveyed 14,000 European and Middle- Eastern consumers, confirmed that Italian travelers in the post-pandemic period are looking for proven and “trustworthy” destinations, where they know ahead of time what to expect so as to avoid surprises after so many uncertainties. This would be unachievable in Cuba.
No truthful information
In the context of the coronavirus pandemic, censorship from the Cuban government apparatus aims to hide the truth, even through the official information channels of the Italian state. “About the spread of the virus in Cuba, we do not have much information in Italy. As a travel agency, guide ourselves by the official web page of the ministry, www.viaggiaresicuri.it, and at that site, information about Cuba is scarce and old. Right now, the information available is from early August, which means that we do not have official information that would indicate the real risks for a tourist who plans to visit Cuba,” explained Morgan Ivaldi.
It’s amazing that in Italy no one knows that Cuba was labeled a “category 4” country –meaning “very high risk” for COVIDd-19 contagion- by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in the U.S. Countries at “category 4” level are those that have had 500 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 28 days.
Díaz-Canel’s regime not only limits access to information regarding the effects of the pandemic in the island, but also tries to hide the delicate social situation as well as the repression it exercises. Ivaldi stated: “Personally, I did not know the situation, I learnt about it through an Italian friend who has family in Cuba. Apparently, the regime summoned its militants to take to the streets and they wreaked havoc, but this information does not reach us here in Italy.”
Morgan Ivaldi indicated that in Italy, “there is need for more truthful information” about Cuba. “I clearly explain the general situation in Cuba to my clients: that Cuba is at “category 4” risk-level when it comes to COVID-19 contagion, a very high incidence, and that at this time, there are risks of political demonstrations, food shortages and health and sanitary problems. Of course, if in the end, the client wants to travel to Cuba, if he or she makes the decision to travel there, we have to satisfy their wishes,” he summed-up.