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Encouraging Eco-Cuba holidays at Caribbean's Largest Wetland

  • 13-Oct-09 14:35
  • Cuba
  • Holiday Industry

Cuba's most famous ecological site and protected World Biosphere Reserve is being promoted by the island's Tourism Ministry as they emphasize on the preserve's eco-friendly potential for eco Cuba holidays.

Encouraging Eco-Cuba holidays at Caribbean's Largest Wetland

Tourism officials are eager to promote the eco-friendly appeal aspect of Cuba holidays as they aim to drive more ecotourism to the island’s most famous ecological site and the largest wetland in the Caribbean, officially declared a World Biosphere Reserve in 2002.

For those green travellers who look for more than a good tan on their Cuba holidays, tourism officials have decided to open up the doors of Cuba’s green holidays potential and reinforce infrastructure at this ecological zone’s nearby hotels.

"We have four well-appointed hotels for nature-loving tourists, interested in hiking, bird-watching, diving or sport fishing," said Estanislao Rodríguez, Commercial Director of the tourist outfitter Cubanacán in the Cienaga.

The Zapata Peninsula is home to a unique variety of endemic flora and fauna boasting the largest crocodile reserve in the Caribbean and being the Caribbean’s best preserved wetlands. This is the home place of unique endemic birds such as the “soprano of the forest”, also known as the Zapa wren, a bird that charms all with its enchanting song. Seeing this tiny and shy bird is often a goal for visitors touring this area during their Cuba holidays.

These vast wetlands on the southern coast of the Matanzas province might be scarcely populated by humans but it is home to no less than 65% of Cuba’s bird species , 1,000 plant species and native amphibians, like the highly endangered Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer), which is only found here, at the Cienaga de Zapata and at Cuba's southern Island de la Juventud (Isle of Youth.

This striking natural wonder is currently civistied by around 100,000 tourists a yer. With the new advertising campaign going under way, Cuba expects to encourage and drive more tourism to this relatively unexplored aspect of Cuba holidays. The campaign is being specially aimed at visitors from Europe, which have a strong demand for specialised eco-travel.

‘It is increasingly necessary to diversify Cuba's products, and nature tourism provides one such opportunity, but it will be done in a "sustainable" way’, said Manuel Marrero, Cuba’s Tourism Minister at an international meeting aimed at promoting Cienaga de Zapata as a new travel destination within the Cuba holidays package.

Pablo Bouza, director of the Cienaga de Zapata National Park, which extends over almost the wetlands area of 600,000 square km, also told Tierramérica that steps have been taken to ensure that tourism here "is not massive, but sustainable."

"Since we decided to make public use of these protected areas, their capacity for nature tourism has been studied... There are instruments for measuring the effectiveness of management for each activity, with evaluations carried out twice a year," he explained.

By way of example, Bouza cited the case of hiking in the wetlands' lagoon and cave system, where only three of a total of 90 flooded caverns will be open to visitors. Furthermore, on each visit, no more than seven people can enter, with a maximum of 15 people a day to ensure that eco-Cuba holidays remain sustainable and protect the local environment.

Officials also have faith in the close relationship between the tourism industry and the government agencies for environmental protection. As for Cuba hotels in the area there as many as 4 eco-friendly lodgings and hotels, ranging from 2* to 4* star accommodation in: Villa Guamá, Hotel Playa Girón and Hotel Playa Larga.

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