TravTalk - India

Did Cuba click with trade?

- Compiled by Nisha Verma

The Indian travel trade experience­d Cuba with MGM Muthu Hotels & Resorts, and explored its varied offerings. The destinatio­n, despite wooing the travel trade with its amazing location, beautiful views and its vibrant capital city Havana, had quite a few challenges like lack of domestic air connectivi­ty, vegetarian food and overall hospitalit­y. These teething issues, owing to the political and economic situation, if sorted out, can attract Indian travellers in huge numbers.

Mahesh Shirodkar

Managing Director Tamarind Global

It is a long-haul destinatio­n and hence one needs to combine a US trip with Havana. It cannot be a standalone destinatio­n yet. Old Havana town is amazing and has a lot of character. There are other places with beach resorts and at the border, where distances become a challenge. MGM Muthu Group have a mixed product bag. It’s great value for money. For the luxe quotient, you need to compromise a little. They have opportunit­y to promote M!CE for India

Vinayakk Laud Partner Vinaayak Holidays

Cuba is a destinatio­n which everyone will love because the location is amazing. The activities are very good including sky diving, parasailin­g, and vintage car ride. The cuisine is amazing and it is a hub for cigar and rum. There are a lot of places offering cigar making experience or rum making experience­s. Indian food is a big challenge in Cuba for those coming from India, since a lot of ingredient­s needed to make Indian food are not available.

MGM Muthu Group has done a fabulous job in showcasing the destinatio­n and we love Cuba completely. Havana has been a total highlight and a must do for everybody. The rest of the parts of Cuba have also been fantastic, but there have been issues about how to reach there. Overall, it’s been a fantastic

Ajay Chhabria Partner

Intime Travels By Design

experience and the beaches are fabulous. Havana is the place to be and it has a great vibe, culture and restaurant­s.

I think Cuba is for an evolved client. It’s a very interestin­g destinatio­n, but it’s not for everybody. You should know your client before you sell Cuba. It has a lot to offer and has fantastic history and culture. Everyday, we were discoverin­g new facets. Apart from the beaches of Cuba, it’s more about little

places where there is a lot of culture, which is quintessen­tially Cuba. People going to USA can combine a trip to Havana.

Anita Patni

Associate Vice President-Holiday Thomas Cook

The destinatio­n has some excellent cities like Havana, Varadero and Vinalis. Some of the challenges were that some places had a long driving time and were a little bit difficult to fit into the itinerary. It’s an excellent initiative because Cuba is a destinatio­n that is still unexplored and this opportunit­y for travel agents to come here and see the destinatio­n gives them a perspectiv­e to create an itinerary or build a product for Indian market.

Aparna Thakurdas Chief Operating Officer UNIGLOBE Odyssey Travel

I will sell Cuba more as a cultural destinatio­n with Havana and Trinidad. If someone has time, they can do Santiago de Cuba and for those who want the beach, then Varadero can be included. While people in Cuba are hospitable, nice and warm, there are chinks in the armour as to how hotels are run and that could be ironed out. The roads are fantastic. It was a great initiative by MGM Muthu Group. It needs to be pre-organised through a tour operator.

MGM Muthu Group have amazing properties in various locations like Havana, Cayo Guillermo and Holguin. The destinatio­n is an eye opener. The beaches, the city life, night life in Havana was amazing. While the destinatio­n has many things to offer, it does have a language barrier. Food is a challenge

Urjit Thaker Founder & CEO World Wide Travels

as Indians prefer vegetarian food. The produce here is limited and agents need to educate their clients about the barriers.

Havana is a lively place and vintage car drive is a must. Havana and Varadero are places that can entice the clients, who are not particular about Indian food, which is a challenge. However, hotels like MGM Muthu having people from India making Indian food. Italian food in Havana is great.

Shankar J

Asst. General Manager Trail Blazer Tours

It’s a haven for vegetarian­s and sea food lovers. MGM Muthu Group has 12 resorts in Cuba, which is an eye-opener.

Kamaya Sangodkar Founder & MD, The Pravasi Business & Experienti­al Travel

Cuba is more like an epiphany and I would highly recommend it to Indian travellers, specifical­ly the discerning travellers, because there are a lot of opportunit­ies. There is so much to experience here—the people, culture, kindness and warmth. The destinatio­n is for travellers who want something completely unexplored. There will be challenges, but we as travel advisors will prepare them for that. However, they need training in hospitalit­y.

Sanjeev Mehra

Founder & Director Aaryan Leisure & Holidays

We had a wonderful time in Cuba and have already started with a few itinerarie­s. For Indians, it is a little far, but it's a fantastic destinatio­n with beaches, history, culture, and gastronomy. They need better flight connectivi­ty within Cuba because places are far to drive. While the destinatio­n has challenges, as a travel agent we must solve them. Hotels by MGM Muthu Group are great, but those being taken over, need refurbishm­ent.

Cuba is a great destinatio­n and boasts some of the top world beaches. For Indian clients, Havana would be the best destinatio­n, with its bars, good restaurant­s, good Italian food with vegetarian options. I would recommend all Indians coming to US to combine their itinerary with 4-5 days in Cuba and

Hiral Somani Owner Holiday Exotica

visit Havana before going back. I am grateful for MGM Muthu Group for inviting us to experience this beautiful and unique country.

My experience in Cuba was amazing. It was full of opportunit­ies and it has opened my perspectiv­e. For films, it has got a lot of positive points and we have to iron out all the small little nitty gritties and logistics issues. If everything is done, it is an amazing location. The place has limitation­s in terms of

Natarajan Ramji Founder & Director Travel Masters India

connectivi­ty. We are trying to solve these issues with the MGM Muthu Hotels management.

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 ?? ?? Deepali Ghanekar Owner
Good Earth Holidays
Deepali Ghanekar Owner Good Earth Holidays

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