A Date for Professional Tourism
At the beginning of the mid-twentieth century, Cuba laid the foundations for establishing tourism having a social nature that would offer the opportunity to combine, in one fell swoop, recreational possibilities and leisure activities that would be healthy, enriching and educational. From that moment, tourism began to be defined along sustained and sustainable development lines.
The year 1959 marks the start of a maxim for Cuban tourism: promoting the natural, cultural and historical attractions of the Island in order to leave behind the stigma of a Cuba where vice and gambling proliferated. We began to work on the basis of a new vision and implemented actions leading towards the restructuring of the Cuban tourism system.
The first international event in Cuba related to tourism took place in Havana from October 17th to 24th, the ninth Convention of Travel Agents (ASTA). More than two thousand travel agents from 82 countries, accompanied by their families, visited the Cuban capital. These were unprecedented figures when compared to the previous eight conventions.
The National and International Tourism Enterprise (ETNI) was born in 1963, the direct predecessor of the Agencia de Viajes Cubatur S.A., which was in charge of looking after the incipient tourist industry that was beginning to view Cuba as an interesting destination. It was not until 1980 that Cubatur organized the First Viajes Cubatur Convention at the emblematic Habana Libre Hotel in the Cuban capital. The event sparked international interest and resulted in more than 300 delegates and representatives from more than 200 travel agencies the world over attending.
Subsequently, the event started attaining greater importance and international acceptance. Following its start, it was held every year and would alternate Havana and the Varadero resort as its site. The event went by several different names: Viajes Cubatur Convention, Travel Trade Show Cubatur, Tourism Convention, until finally it was baptized the FITCuba International Tourism Fair.
These yearly encounters, based on discussions and negotiations, have made it possible for the Cuban travel industry to move forward step by step to maturity from the moment of its conception. The International Tourism Fair has promoted to a large extent the plurality and quality of products and services offered, playing a positive role in the visible increase of arrivals of vacationers on the Island.
From 2005 to 2011 the Morro-Cabaña Historical Park was the official headquarters for FITCuba. This complex made up of the Castillo de los Tres Reyes Magos del Morro and the San Carlos de La Cabaña Fortress is part of the fortifications system for the city of Havana and in 1982 was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Furthermore, every year a guest country is selected and the event is dedicated to one specific type of tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism of Cuba, which is the main organizer of FITCUBA and part of its strategy is to always bring the International Tourism Fair closer to the destination that Cuba wish to promote. Like in previous years, FITCUBA was held in 2012 at Cayo Santa María, province of Villa Clara; in 2013 was held in Varadero; in 2014 in Havana, in 2015 at Cayo Coco and Guillermo, Jardines del Rey destination, and in 2016 returns to Havana, the year in which Havana was declared one of the seven wonder cities by UNESCO. In its 37th edition FITCuba 2017 took place in Guardalavaca, Holguín; and in 2018, FITCuba was held at Villa Clara keys a region full of natural ecological areas and beautiful beaches.
Havana, a fascinating city which on 2019 will be its 500 years anniversary, will welcome the 39th edition of FITCuba 2019, which will be held at the San Carlos de la Cabaña Fortress —an EIGHTEENTH century building, which forms part of the Historic Center of Old Havana Colonial Architecture, declared cultural Heritage of Humanity in 1982 by UNESCO.
FITCuba has managed to position itself as the main professional event in the Cuban tourism industry, becoming the ideal place for networking between companies from abroad and from Cuba itself. FITCUBA made possible new strategies, policies and actions within companies in the tourist market; also presented new Cuban destinations and its products, as well set out the culture and tourism of the invited guest country of honour which on 2019 will be Spain.