HAVANA, 2 October (by Narayan Ammachchi) Cuba will soon begin offering direct flights to Costa Rica, as the Caribbean country intensifies its efforts to bolster its tourism sector in the face of the ongoing U.S. embargo.
Cubana de Aviación, the nation’s top airliner, says it will begin running flights to Costa Rica from November 16.Cubana had dropped the Costa Rican route six years ago, citing fewer demand, but now the airliner is resuming service in a bid to support the national tourism industry.
The Caribbean country, ruled by a single-party communist regime for over five decades, recently launched “Authentic Cuba,” a campaign to promote its tourist sites on the international stage. A key component of this program is persuading airliners to bring more tourists into the country.
The route will operate twice weekly, on Thursdays and Sundays, with departures from Havana in the morning and a flight time of two hours and thirty minutes. Flights will be operated by Antonov 158 aircraft, with a capacity of 85 passengers. Data from the Costa Rican Tourism Board showed that only 3,372 travelers visited Cuba last year.
Despite U.S. sanctions, more and more tourists are arriving in Cuba from places such as Russia and Venezuela. Weeks ago, Russian carrier Transaero launched a flight service to the Caribbean country. Tourism is one of Cuba’s top four generators of income, along with nickel mining, medical services and remittances from relatives living abroad.