Cubans who have emigrated to the U.S. and their relatives living in Cuba are using a new air route between Havana and the Dominican Republic to spend a few days with their families in the coveted Caribbean tourist destination of Punta Cana.
After the launching on June 11 of a weekly flight between the Cuban capital and Punta Cana International Airport, operated by the new Dominican airline Sky Cana, family tourism is growing in that destination, which many Cuban emigrants prefer to travel to their country of origin, where tourism and comfort standards are lower.
According to Carlos Courtaux, director of the Yes Travel agency, which sells the destination in the United States, this route is “a dream come true after almost two years of organization, which together with the Dominican authorities we achieved the operation where its greatest success is to see the joy of these families”, quoted the specialized site Travel Trade Caribbean.
“I could not contain the joy of seeing how families who had 20 years without seeing each other, others who did not know their grandchildren, nephews and others who had never returned to their land, and with the flights began to meet again in the Dominican Republic, a country they consider their second home because here they feel the human warmth of their homeland, Cuba,” said Liliana Suarez, of the agency itself.
This frequency will be maintained every Saturday during the summer until the end of August, operating package tours from Havana and Miami to hotel chains in Punta Cana. Travel agents estimate an influx of almost 15,000 visitors through this route.
This influx comes as the U.S. begins to resume flights to airports in Cuban provinces outside Havana. However, the tourist upturn expected by the authorities does not seem to be taking place.
Although restrictions due to the pandemic on the island have been reduced to almost zero, official figures for the first half of 2022 reflected the arrival of 313,908 foreign tourists, well above the figures for 2021 but below the visitors for the same period in 2020 and 2019.
On the other hand, destinations such as Central America and the Dominican Republic have already reached tourism recovery figures close to the pre-pandemic period. In May alone, the Dominican Republic received 561,323 foreign tourists, 44% more than in 2021, and accumulated in only five months a total of 2.9 million, doubling the 1.4 million of all 2021, according to official figures.