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Cuba celebrates kick-off to London's WTM 2015 in style

Like every year come November, Cuba hosted a special party to welcome the World Travel Market, which officially kicked off yesterday and which is now in its 36th edition. This year the world's biggest travel event is sponsored by Mexico as it also marks the dual Year of Mexico in the UK and the Year of the UK in Mexico. Regardless of who's sponsoring, Cuba always celebrating the opening of each year's WTM with a big Cuban party to which all of its main travel partners are invited.

Cuba celebrates kick-off to London's WTM 2015 in style

Kicking off for one more year the Cuban Night was once again held in London to the delight of a large group of travel industry partners invited to this edition of the popular annual event, gathering everyone who is someone in the Cuban tourism world for the UK market.

The Holiday Place, a long-established partner with strong roots in Cuba and featuring in every year’s guest-list, was there once again to celebrate with fellow Cuban partners and associates.

Head of the Cuba Tourist Board in the UK, Miguel Chang

Cuban Night 2015 was held at the Boisdale of Canary Wharf with the event starting at 7 p.m. and allowing for pleasant meet and greet sessions accompanied by delicious Cuban hors d’ouvres that included malanga fritters and sweet potato chips. Mojitos and Cuba Libres were free-flowing and generously served with several waiters on hand to make sure everyone had a full glass throughout the evening.

Head of the Cuba Tourist Board in the UK, Miguel Chang

Introducing all guests to this year’s Cuban celebration, Director of the Cuba Tourist Board in the UK, Miguel Chang, gave a welcoming speech in which he reflected on Cuba’s recent tourism boom, with a number of foreign tourist arrivals that increases year on year and a positive outlook to close the year with the predicted 3.5 million number of visitors – a figure that may even be surpassed if growth patterns continue growing at their current pace.

Teresita Vicente, the Cuban Ambassador to the UK

After his words he gave way to Teresita Vicente, the Cuban Ambassador to the UK who spoke of what has been “for some years now a tradition in London”. The party which has traditionally been held at London’s Floridita Bar but had to be changed this year due to its closure, carried on with its signature theme of authentic Cuban food and the performance of a Cuban band of musicians.

Cuban band of musicians

On her opening speech, Ms Vicente said;

"We welcome all of you to Cuba, as a matter of fact I know many of you have visited Cuba several times."

A special thanks was in order for owner of the Boisdale chain of restaurants - famous for providing the best of British and Scottish food perfectly laced with nightly live music - Ranald MacDonald, who made a special effort to host Cuba’s special annual event at one of his premises and provided the Cuban team with plenty of support to make the party a successful reality.

"Thank you very much Mr McDonald, I think the Cuban Night this year is prestiged by your presence, kindness and restaurant."

The ambassador’s speech was followed by closing words from another Cuban representative. He started off by saying:

"It’s a big pleasure for me to once again give you a warm welcome you to the Cuban party at the World Travel Market. Cuba is having a very good tourism year, we’re having very good results."

He went on to highlight how the UK was a very strong market for Cuba and one that continued to grow from strength to strength.

"We want to say a big thank you to tour operators, press, airlines (in the UK)… all those that in one way or another are helping to develop the Cuban tourism business."

Speaking of the change of venue, as every previous Cuban Night had been traditionally held at London’s Floridita bar, which recently closed down due to a fire, he concluded by joking:

“We changed the location but we really hope we haven’t changed the mood. I have been seeing lots of veterans of this party here – the first time I still had hair."

Exorting everyone to tuck into the food and take to the stage to dance to the live band, he concluded:

"We will dance, we will enjoy the Cuban food, we will enjoy Cuban music, we will talk to our friends and have a very unforgettable evening and night here at the start of the World Travel Market. Thank you for being here with us tonight and enjoy your night!"

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