Fidel's Vision Crystallized in the Northern Cuban Keys

Fidel's Vision Crystallized in the Northern Cuban Keys
Fecha de publicación: 
2 May 2024
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The perception of the future development of the northern keys of Cuba for tourism was one of many accurate visions of Commander in Chief Fidel Castro. With the passaing of time, reality has given total validity to that dream, which he always followed closely like each of his personal achievements for the advancement of the country.

He visited the islets one by one from the Hicacos Peninsula to the Camagüey coast and envisioned, with his feet on the ground, a bright future for those places.

This gave way to the causeways – stone paths over the sea – that linked the paradisiacal and virgin islets to the Main Island, and then gave way to the birth of the now famous international hubs Jardines del Rey (Ciego de Ávila) and the Villa Clara keys.

Precisely, the first of these two destinations will serve as venuefor the 42nd FitCuba 2024 International Tourism Fair, scheduled from May 2-5 in the Avilanian hub, north of that central province. The agenda will be dedicated to Latin America and the Caribbean, with a particular focus on the nautical and non-hotel areas, according to sector authorities.

The Hotel Gran Marena Cayo Coco will host the activities of the event and is preparing for such an event in a tourist region that has already hosted this meeting on previous occasions.

In its surroundings, the adjacent coastal dunes are being rehabilitated, an important task led by the Center for Environmental Engineering and Biodiversity (CIBA) of the territory, as part of its provision of scientific-technical services aimed at promoting the sustainable advancement of Jardines del Rey, also integrated by the neighboring keys Guillermo, Cruz and Paredón Grande, linked to each other and to the mainland by a 17-kilometer long sea road, which starts from the town of Turiguanó.

During 2023 and as part of that initiative in the second most important sun and beach destination in the country (after Varadero), the CIBA worked to rescue the vegetation cover on Playa Pilar mounds, declared since 2010 as Protected Area with the category of Outstanding Natural Element.

Located east in Cayo Guillermo, it constitutes the largest dune system in Cuba and the insular Caribbean, with a height that varies between 13 and 16 meters above sea level.

Likewise, with a view to FitCuba 2024, the image of those places is embellished and complemented by its surroundings after more than three decades of operations, once the opening of its first accommodation there occurred, in November 1993, with the presence of the Historical Leader of the Cuban Revolution Fidel Castro, who thus saw the realization of his predictions since 1983 when he began throwing stones into the sea to open the doors to paradise.

Jardines del Rey has become a brand, and brings together several islets with tourist potential in the Sabana-Camagüey archipelago, and its name comes from the Spanish explorer Diego Velázquez, who between 1513 and 1514 wanted to pay honors to the monarch Ferdinand the Catholic. This overseas area was also immortalized by the American writer Ernest Hemingway in the book Islands in the Gulf.

In homage to the author of The Old Man and the Sea, all of Guillermo Key's properties carry designations related to his life and work. Coco Key is the main axis of the area, whose name is due to the coconut bird or forest ibis, white and with a curved beak. The attractiveness of the region justified the fact of also building an international airport, open on December 26, 2002.

For sustainable tourism that is 100% environment friendly, natural attributes are reserved in these sites. Thus, on that last island the improvements include new identification signs, as well as the restoration of wooden signs that guide visitors to various recreational facilities.

Apart from the recovery work on the road infrastructure, work has been carried out on Paseo del Amor, the Cayo Coco roundabout, a photography stop and an advertising billboard. At the same time, the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) and the Gaviota Tourism Group carry out maintenance actions in hotel and non-hotel accommodations.

Other natural values of the destination

The controlled exploitation of the values cradled by these domains poses among its challenges the conservation of the environment of these keys and islets as a biodiversity reserve, considered unique in the Caribbean geography.

More than 250 endemic and native species have been located, including 28 varieties of reptiles and more than 200 of birds. Only in Cayo Coco, 510 kilometers from the Cuban capital, researchers report 340 species of flora. For example, flocks of pink flamingos, an endangered species, can be seen as a unique spectacle.

Cuba constitutes an archipelago with more than 4 thousand islands and islets that surround the main Island, which has become an outstanding destination for international tourism, despite continued negative contexts derived from the universal and indigenous economic crisis; COVID-19, which paralyzed the world, and the intensified economic, commercial and financial blockade of the United States, which viciously persecuted pro-local tourism initiatives.

With diversified products for the leisure industry, today it’s preferred for its sun and beach programs, at the head of a list of vacation modalities that include cultural tourism, events and conventions, health, nautical and nature tourism, among others.

One of the most exclusive proposals in Cuba, Jardines del Rey, will receive delegates to FitCuba 2024 early next month, the most significant event held each year by the Cuban tourism industry.

Translated by Amilkal Labañino / CubaSí Translation Staff

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