Thousands flock to Havana as Cuba celebrates one of its biggest events of the year.
Cuba’s world famous Festival del Habano takes place between Feb. 23 and 27 against a backdrop of continued world-wide demand for Habano cigars, one of Cuba’s most important and sought after products.
Cigars have been one of Cuba’s signature products ever since Christopher Columbus saw natives smoking rolled up tobacco leaves when he first sailed to the Caribbean island in 1492. And it’s a significant portion of the Cuban economy — Group Habano had a turnover of approximately $450 million in 2014.
The biggest ever ‘Festival del Habano’ provides visitors from over 60 countries with a unique insider’s look at the Cuban cigar culture set within a celebratory and unique experience. The 2015 Festival is taking place at a great time for the Cuban industry that has seen global cigar sales unaffected by tougher anti-smoking regulations.
This is thanks to a strategy focused on quality, increased consumer confidence, improved international tourism, and renewed optimism that has heralded the return of the ‘feel good factor’ among consumers. Consumption habits have evolved too, with a typical premium cigar smoker getting younger by the day – the average age of cigar smokers has fallen from 40 to 35. There is also an upturn in female smokers, who account for slightly over 10 percent of the cigar-smoking population.
Cuba’s finest hand-rolled cigars, often perceived as the preserve of the rich and famous but now one of life’s affordable luxuries, are so sought after that Habanos now supplies about 70 percent of the world’s luxury cigar market (excluding the U.S.).
The number of visitors to the Festival del Habano has increased each year since its creation in 1999, now becoming one of the must-visit events on Cuba’s tourism calendar. Cuba’s climate, unique culture, and cigar heritage have helped propel the country to among the top of the Caribbean tourism charts.
Report from The Associated Press