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Cuba evacuates tourists to Varadero what is now under surprise attack by Hurricane Irma

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A hurricane, including Hurricane Irma can be unpredictable. Cuban authorities went out of their way to ship thousands of tourists under police escort from all over the country to the gated resort area of Varadero. Varadero is known for brand name luxury hotels.

Cuba’s Civil Defense troops mobilized tourists staying at 17 hotels in the keys to safer places such as Havana and Varadero, while national tourists were returned to their places of origin. Nobody should be staying between Cayo Guillermo and Cayo Coco by today (Friday).

Now as unpredictable as Irma can be, the latest projections for the path of Hurricane Irma show Varadero, Cuba’s leading beach resort area in the province of Matanzas, in danger of receiving the full force or close to it.

Cuba has much experience in safeguarding lives during the passing of hurricanes, but the debilitated housing stock throughout the country and especially in Havana put the country at great risk. Recovery from past hurricanes is still underway, with the housing and building material needs way below demand.

Over 60% of tourists staying at hotels located on the island’s northern Keys are Canadian, who make up the largest number of foreign visitors to the island.

Tweets are coming in. Here are some sampes:
Evacuated last minute by ThomasCook from Cayo Coco to a “safer” place in Varadero. #Cuba #abandoned #Varadero

Hold up in Melia Varadero @ThomasCookUK we need information on what’s happening? You had 4 days prior to this storm to fly us home #awful

I’ve tried to reach friends in Varadero Matanzas and Cardenas and nobody has replied yet, so getting worried, pls let me know if u hear.


There are over 17,000 tourists currently staying at hotels in Varadero, the largest sun and beach resort in the country, located in the western province of Matanzas. The evacuation plan also includes more than 350 foreign clients who are currently staying at private home rentals in Varadero.

“We are ready to evacuate any visitor, no matter where they are,” Ibis Fernandez, a representative from Cuba’s Tourism Ministry in Matanzas, told state-owned TV.

The majority of hotel chains on the island are managed by Spanish companies, who control over 80% of higher standard rooms and especially the hotels located on the beach.

The Spanish Embassy and Consulate in Havana have put a special plan into action to attend to Spanish tourists who are on the island and are asking them to register their details so they can be located at any time.

Spanish diplomats are also in contact with managers of hotel chains and the Spanish airlines Iberia and Air Europa, and the directors of Evelop charter flights which are the airlines who most regularly fly between these two countries.

The state-owned Cuban Aviation company has canceled both national and international flights.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.