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    Jardines del Rey: the path traced by Fidel

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    With a vision of tourism development different from the one that gave rise to this activity in Cuba during the Neocolonial period ―when Prohibition in the United States displaced travelers to this Island, converted into a place of gambling, alcohol and prostitution― the Cuban Revolution channeled the progress of the sector after its triumph in 1959.

    National tourism was promoted, based on an infrastructure of 128 hotel facilities (7,728 rooms), distributed between Havana, Matanzas and Varadero ―as defined by the Cuban Encyclopedia on the Web―; however, the considerable entry of travelers from abroad led to evaluating other potentialities.

    Nevertheless, it was not until the declaration of the so-called Special Period that the intentions to promote international tourism materialized. Now, destinations such as Jardines del Rey arose, where Commander in Chief Fidel Castro Ruz assessed opportunities to alleviate the economic crisis.

    A road over the sea, which became the starting point, made it possible to conquer the paradise with white sands and blue-green waters located north of the province of Ciego de Ávila.

    When the Guitart Cayo Coco hotel complex (currently Muthu Colonial) was opened, the idea of ​​promoting the so-called leisure industry in the Jardines del Rey archipelago materialized ―officially, on November 12, 1993, although it began operations in April.

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    This facility, composed of 23 housing modules, which group 458 rooms with views of the sea, swimming pools and gardens, showed an original architecture ―in the style of the colonial era in Cuba, including cobbled streets and small squares―, characteristics that impressed the historical leader of the revolution.

    With the emotion of having appreciated the most beautiful work of his life and the best tourist facility in the country, he set new goals to develop quality tourism integrated into nature.

    “It is not a question of building skyscrapers, of piling cement on the seashore, but of building truly hospitable, attractive and human constructions, which is what the tourist wants. (…) that is the tourism that we propose to develop”, he expressed.

    Adhering to this conception, the workers of the sector in the province of Ciego de Ávila have turned Jardines del Rey into one of the most prominent and competitive destinations in Cuba and the Caribbean region, recognized among the best for ecotourism and excursions.

    Based on international trends, they seek an assortment of varied activities and experiences that allow the offer to be differentiated: combinations of options (leisure, sports, cultural and natural heritage, gastronomy, and others), sea and mountains, sun and beach tourism and city.

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    It is committed to taking advantage of the historical, cultural and natural values, the offer of typical food and drinks of the Greater Antilles, and to satisfy the aspirations of travelers to know Cuba and its people, the last one considered among the essential motivations of who choose this island.

    Iyolexis Correa Lorenzo, provincial delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in Ciego de Ávila, stressed that progress is being promoted from 25 accommodation centers, with a total of 10,000 capacities between the Coco, Guillermo and Paredón Grande cays.

    She recognized the commitment to renovate hotel and non-hotel facilities, and the management of material and human resources, essential to offer a quality tourism product capable of meeting customer expectations.

    Some 37 projects, in accommodation, recreational and support areas, are contemplated in the development strategy of the tourism sector in the province of Ciego de Ávila until the year 2030, with the purpose of expanding and improving the options for national and international clients.

    Correa Lorenzo emphasized that in the 2022-2024 period, work will be done to increase the hotel plant, through investments in Cayo Paredón Grande, in charge of the Gaviota Tourism Group.

    Likewise, she said, they conceive the revival and expansion of hotel facilities on islets, the improvement of conditions in others located in the cities of Ciego de Ávila and Morón, and the revitalization of the infrastructure and services in popular campgrounds.

    The Palmares Extra-Hotel Group plans to diversify leisure options in the northern cays of Ciego de Avila, through the construction of the AquaRey Park and the Cayo Mortero Recreational Complex, both would be located in Cayo Guillermo, she added.

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    In correspondence with the increase in accommodation capacities, investments are planned to guarantee food and transportation, as well as facilities for workers in the sector based on the construction of houses, by the real estate companies Almest and Inmotur.

    The Coastal Research Center (CIEC), established in Cayo Coco 31 years ago, at the initiative of Fidel, has participated in all the projects, ensuring orderly construction and compliance with environmental policies.

    Carrying out inquiries ―before, during and after the buildings― makes it possible to assess the environmental impact, and facilitates decision-making and execution of actions to reduce aggressions to the environment, Maikel Gómez Colina, director of the aforementioned scientific institution, affiliated to the Environment Agency (AMA), highlighted.

    Tourism, he recalled, is one of the economic activities with the greatest interdependence on the ecosystem where it develops, considering that it consumes natural resources and, on the other hand, needs an attractive natural environment to prosper.

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    In this context, they provide essential services such as physical-chemical and microbiological evaluations of coastal spas and lagoons, inquiries about the behavior of flora and fauna, as well as monitoring and rehabilitation actions on beaches.

    The environmental certification of all bathing areas and facilities are set as goals for the coming years, with the purpose of enforcing environmental regulations and adding value to tourism, he stressed.

    Martha Rodríguez Uratsuka, vice president of the AMA, valued the contribution of the CIEC to sustainable progress in the keys north of Ciego de Ávila, recently declared as an area with special regulations, of the type of economic development in the category of Territory of Preferred Tourist Use.

    In Cuba, Tourism constitutes one of the key areas defined in the Economic-Social Strategy to boost the economy and confront the global crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The export of goods and services, which includes this line, constitutes the main source of foreign currency income for the Island, therefore, in the midst of the global crisis, continuity is posed as a pressure and challenge, in view of which renewal processes are promoted and bet on safety.

    Successive improvements make it possible to raise the quality of services in hotel, non-hotel and support facilities, which operate after being endorsed by the ministry of the branch and Public Health with the condition of more Hygienic and Safe Tourism.

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    They consider other competitive advantages such as the capacity of human resources, made up mostly of people under 35 years of age, women and people with 12 years or more of experience.

    It is added to this the productive chain with the various actors of the national economy, in order to satisfy the demands for supplies and reduce imports to lower the cost of operations.

    The destination of Cuba is reborn daily, with new goals, commitments and the satisfaction of turning tourist activity into the achievement of a triumphant Revolution on its 64th anniversary, despite the constant obstacles imposed by the enemy to prevent the growth of a strategic line.

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