what's NEW


Cuba announces unilateral visa exemption for Chinese citizens

BY :CGTN, Xinhua

UPDATED :2024-05-06

The Cuban government announced on May 4 that it will adopt a visa-free policy for Chinese citizens holding ordinary passports, starting this month.

The announcement was made by Tourism Minister Juan Carlos Garcia during the 42nd Cuban International Tourism Fair (FITCuba 2024), which was held in the seaside resort of Cayo Coco in the province of Ciego de Avila.

Garcia also said that China will be the guest of honor of the Cuban Tourism Festival 2025 and that direct flights between China and Cuba will resume on May 17.

On April 23, Air China held a press conference in Beijing regarding new and resumed international flight routes for 2024, confirming this announcement.

"Both sides agreed on the need to create conditions and atmosphere for strengthening relations in all areas, including tourism," Garcia said.

Cuban Prime Minister Manuel Marrero visited China last November. During his visit, Marrero expressed his anticipation for the resumption of direct flights in 2024. He also said he hoped to see a record-breaking number of Chinese tourists visiting Cuba after resuming flights.

As of April 26, Cuba has received more than 1 million international tourists this year, according to data from the Cuban Ministry of Tourism. The Cuban government expects to receive 3.5 million international tourists in 2024.

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Chinese tourists to Cuba grew at an average annual rate of about 23 percent from 2010 to 2019, according to Cuba's Tourism Ministry.

The government of Cuba values the tourism industry as the driving force of the country's economy, due to its contribution to the development of the Cuban business system.

On the recent FITCuba 2024, Miguel Diaz-Canel, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba and president of the country, affirmed that within the country's 2030 development plan, tourism was conceived to be promoted as one of the main economic activities of the country and he expected that the sector will yield greater results than in 2019.

China is Cuba's largest trading partner in goods, which stood at roughly US$ 862 million in 2023.

The two countries in January 2021 signed mutual visa exemptions for holders of diplomatic, service and official passports, and passports for public affairs. In December 2020, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen tourism cooperation. They are also seeking to strengthen exchanges in sustainable tourism and World Heritage preservation.

According to Lonely Planet, the top 10 places to visit in Cuba are Havana (Best city for art and architecture), Valle de Vinales (Best place for dramatic landscapes), Varadero (Best Cuban beach resort), Santiago de Cuba (Best for understanding Cuba's revolutionary history), Baracoa (Best for wildlife spotting), Trinidad (Best for shopping handmade arts and crafts), Matanzas (Best for live music and dancing), Cienfuegos (Best spot for water sports), Camaguey (Best city for strolling maze-like alleys) and Playa Giron (Best for swimming, diving and birdwatching).

Cover image: 央视新闻客户端

Editor: Joyce