Tourism in Villa Clara, more than sea and sand
This province, with so much history, culture, and beautiful landscapes has more to offer beyond its renowned beach resorts
21 de marzo de 2017 - Taken from Granma
This province, with so much history, culture, and tradition, beautiful landscapes and attractions located on lakes, plains, and mountains, as well as colonial villas and industrialized cities, cannot limit its aspirations for tourism to the single destination of its renowned beach resorts.
The province is honored to be the site of the Sculpture Complex where the remains of Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara rest, with those of his guerilla companions in Bolivia, and to have a city like San Juan de los Remedios, the eight villa founded by the Spanish in Cuba, as well as the medicinal mineral waters of Elguea, and the country's largest inland lake, Hanabanilla, among other assets which are attracting the attention of tourism authorities.
Thus, along with the dramatic growth being seen on the province's northern keys, first envisioned so clearly by Fidel, who during the hard days of the Special Period supported the construction of a causeway to provide access to the beautiful beaches of Las Brujas, Ensenacho and Santamaría Keys, also gaining momentum are other tourist options linked to Villa Clara's cities, natural environment, and history.
Omar Milián Torres MSc, general director of Los Caneyes resort group, very knowledgeable of the leisure industry here, in which he has worked most of his life, has plenty of reason to passionately discuss current and future prospects for tourism in the province.
He reports that the UEB (state enterprise unit), affiliated with the Cubanacán hotel chain, currently has 264 rooms, distributed among the hotels Mascotte, Barcelona, Camino del Príncipe and Real, all located in Remedios, in addition to the resorts América, Los Caneyes and Villa La Granjita, in Santa Clara, providing accommodations to hundreds of guests a day who are interested in learning more about the constantly evolving province.
This past year saw a significant increase in income, which reached 6.4 million CUC, plus CUP, to allow for earnings of four million CUC, reflecting the quality of services provided, the director said, adding that tourists report a high level of satisfaction as can be seen on the TripAdvisor website.
Milián reported that improvements have been made to all facilities, among which he mentioned renovation of palm roofs on Los Caneyes' rustic cabins, as well as the addition of telephones, and other conveniences like irons, extra pillows, and electric coffee makers.
Updates at other facilities include painting, new furniture, landscaping, improved drainage and pedestrian access, solar heaters, the repair of pools and cooking areas, the director said.
Thanks to these investments and the quality service provided by staff, the UED averaged an income of 70.96 CUC per tourist/day, a 37% increase over 2015, Milián reported, while for international tourists this figure stood at 83.25 CUC, higher than the previous year. He noted that the largest numbers of international guests come from Germany, France, the United States, the Netherlands, and Italy.
The sustained growth of the tourist industry in Villa Clara has motivated workers in the sector and been a source of pride, but likewise imposes challenges, given the decisive role it is called upon to play in the Cuban economy, as has been repeatedly stated in documents approved by recent Party Congresses.
Thus, leaders of the Cubanacán chain are designing new strategies to continue diversifying products available to visitors in this part of the country, including the renovation of the historic E Central Hotel, in Santa Clara, where the construction of the E Florida and E Rousvelt is likewise projected, all located in the city's central historic district.
Planned for San Juan de los Remedios is the construction/remodeling of the hotels E Leyendas, E Centro Polivalente, Finca Santa Rosa, and E San Juan de los Mercaderes, in addition to the Casa Bauzá, which will help meet demand for accommodations in this historic villa, according to Milián.
Also featured in provincial plans is the city of Sagua La Grande, where to be promoted are the Gran Hotel E, the E Palacio Arena, and the cultural complex where the Casino Español was once located, plus projected facilities on the beautiful beaches of Esquivel and Cristo Keys, Milián reported.
This construction fever is also expected to reach Caibarién, with plans for the hotels E España and E Comercio, as well as Camajuaní, which will welcome the Hotel Cosmopolitan.
Omar Milián Torres emphasized that, given these plans, within short order Villa Clara will be able to present a complete tourist package, where beautiful beaches can be combined with a charming people, cities, museums, lakes, and other heritage and cultural experiences.