Cuba de­mand­ing proof of health in­sur­ance from trav­ellers

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - DESTINATIONS - RON PRADINUK

TRAVEL in­sur­ance for Cuba, com­pet­ing air­line prof­its and a de­cline in trips to the U.S. be­cause of the low Cana­dian dol­lar are the sub­jects of this week’s col­umn. THIS shouldn’t be new in­for­ma­tion, but un­til re­cently Cuban au­thor­i­ties have ac­cepted our pro­vin­cial health cards as suf­fi­cient proof of med­i­cal cov­er­age. As of last week, they seem to be say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. There was a ker­fuf­fle a few years ago when the Cuban govern­ment first enun­ci­ated the pol­icy that ar­riv­ing pas­sen­gers had to show proof of sup­ple­men­tary in­sur­ance. Shortly af­ter, tourist of­fi­cials de­clared Cana­di­ans with pro­vin­cial cov­er­age would not be re­quired to have ex­tra cov­er­age. Now they seem to be say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. They are un­der­scor­ing that those who do not have the proof, as per their re­quire­ments, will have to pur­chase ex­tra cov­er­age from a Cuban in­sur­ance com­pany. I think sup­ple­men­tal cov­er­age should be pur­chased for any out-of-coun­try trip. Pro­vin­cial health pro­grams do not pro­vide for emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices out­side of Canada, and be­cause health ser­vice charges vary from coun­try to coun­try, our pro­vin­cial cov­er­age may be in­suf­fi­cient. While pri­vate in­sur­ance com­pa­nies are of­ten the sub­ject of com­plaints, there is no ques­tion you would have to pay all of your med­i­cal costs be­fore you would be al­lowed to leave the coun­try, if you re­lied strictly on Man­i­toba’s health cov­er­age. Wait­ing for re­im­burse­ment from the pro­vin­cial govern­ment could take months. Our fed­eral govern­ment rec­om­mends ex­tra cov­er­age, so it is best to heed this ad­vice. It’s im­por­tant any cov­er­age you pur­chase be­fore trav­el­ling to Cuba must not be from a United States com­pany. While U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama may be try­ing to open the doors to com­merce, re­stric­tions that have been in place since the Cuban rev­o­lu­tion have not been lifted. re­cov­ery in the hous­ing mar­ket as well as the dol­lar off­set. Usu­ally, when this hap­pens, ho­tels and re­sorts of­fer dis­counts. But not this time. That’s be­cause our busi­ness is be­ing re­placed by other in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors, mostly from China. While the Chi­nese econ­omy is show­ing its own signs of weak­ness, there is a new wealth class in China. They have the money, and are anx­ious to spend it va­ca­tion­ing in the United States. There is a good chance some of those vis­i­tors may come to Canada, but for those of us look­ing for the deals south of the bor­der, they may not ma­te­ri­al­ize im­me­di­ately. Per­haps be­cause many were sens­ing this re­al­ity, cur­rent fig­ures show those Cana­di­ans who still de­ter­mined to travel, have al­ready shifted to other des­ti­na­tions. In De­cem­ber, al­most a mil­lion Cana­di­ans trav­elled to coun­tries other than the United States, up nine per cent from 2014. new in­ter­na­tional growth op­por­tu­ni­ties to gen­er­ate in­creased profit,” On the ba­sis of ad­justed in­come, the air­line re­ported a profit of $1.2 bil­lion, which was more than dou­ble its 2014 record of $531 mil­lion. Mean­time, WestJet re­ported lower prof­its amid prob­lems in Western Canada’s econ­omy. Nearly 25 per cent of WestJet’s busi­ness is based in Al­berta, and 40 per cent of all of its pas­sen­gers travel via that prov­ince, es­pe­cially through WestJet’s hub in Cal­gary. The com­pany re­cently an­nounced huge dis­counts for western flights in an ef­fort to stim­u­late traf­fic. Their hol­i­day divi­sion, WestJet Va­ca­tions, is suf­fer­ing sim­i­lar losses be­cause the Al­berta oil­patch has cut jobs due to fall­ing oil prices and fewer peo­ple are able to take a win­ter va­ca­tion. In the last quar­ter of 2015, WestJet’s prof­its dropped 27 per cent from the pre­vi­ous year. The air­line’s four new wide-body Boe­ing 767s, which were re­cently added, will start fly­ing to Lon­don, Eng­land, this spring. Win­nipeg will be one of the cities served with th­ese non-stop flights. WestJet an­nounced it will of­fer non-stop flights this sum­mer be­tween Van­cou­ver and both Hamil­ton and Lon­don, Ont., and be­tween Toronto Pear­son and Bran­don. The three routes will op­er­ate from late June to early Septem­ber, with con­nec­tions for pas­sen­gers trav­el­ling be­yond Van­cou­ver and Toronto. To­tal one-way prices, in­clud­ing taxes and fees, start at $216 for Toronto-Bran­don, WestJet said.

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