Russian tourists stranded in Cuba begin to return

(VARADERO) About 900 Russian tourists, out of more than 5,000 stranded in Cuba since the suspension of regular services operated by Russian companies, were able to board several charter flights on Sunday evening, as many will do the same on Monday.

Posted at 1:51 p.m.

The suspension comes on the heels of the overflight ban imposed on Russian airlines from the airspace of NATO and European Union member states in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

An official at Varadero Airport, an eastern resort of Havana, told reporters that 927 Russian passengers traveled to Moscow on Sunday, and another 940 are expected to board on Monday.

“We arrived on February 25, we had to give up a five-day vacation and we will not be compensated,” complained tourist Alexei Nekrashevich, 48, who came to Cuba with his wife.

“It is a pity that we had to leave so early, we did not rest enough, but what can we do about it?”, he added.

On Friday, the official Cuban press announced that 5,570 Russian tourists were stranded on the Caribbean island after Russia’s Aeroflot, Azure Air and Nordwind suspended their regular contacts with the island.

According to the official communication apparatus of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), Russia’s Nordwind is required to make four weekly contacts between Varadero and Moscow.

Cuba has been counting on Russian visitors, who went from 74,019 travelers in 2020 to 146,151 in 2021, to revive tourism, a key driver of its economy that has been frozen since March 2020 due to the pandemic.

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Nearly 15,000 Russian and 2,000 Ukrainian tourists are stranded for the same reasons in the Dominican Republic, the government of the neighboring island of Cuba said on Wednesday.

Agreements have been reached with hotel chains to ensure accommodation for tourists until a solution is found to return home.

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