HAVANA._ As usual for the month of February, Havana’s International Cigar Festival captivated over 1,000 people who came from all around the world not only attracted by Cuban cigars but by its culture as well.
Visits to cigar plantations and factories, talks and tastings of new cigar brands always arouse the interest of experts, business people and cigar smokers alike.
This time the festival was particularly important because it welcomed world celebrities who, for the first time, came to get first-hand information about this agro-industry, which stands out for the quality of its products.
Like in previous editions the festival was brought to a spectacular close by the traditional prizes, the auction and other activities, which are the ultimate expression of the Cuban sector’s good performance and repercussion.
Such was the case with Premium cigar humidors auctioned for $740, 000 during the closing of the 17th International Cigar Festival (From Feb. 23 to 27). Those funds will go to the National Cuban Healthcare System, as according to tradition. The closing ceremony took place at the Havana’s Pabexpo exhibition site, where the Montecristo cigar band marking the brand’s 80th anniversary was launched and the Habano of the Year (2014) Awards were granted.
Cuban Rogelio Ortúzar won the prize in the Production category, while George Fereos of Cyprus and Gary Heathcot of the United States were the winners in the Business and Communication categories, respectively.
Humidors of the brands H.Upmann, Hoyo de Monterrey, Romeo y Julieta, Partagás, Montecristo, and Cohiba were exhibited and auctioned during the closing ceremony.
The gala dinner was attended by several celebrities, including actors such as Indian Kabir Bedi, well known for his role of Sandokan, and British Stephen Frey. Other internationally famous guests were U.S model, singer and designer Paris Hilton, and British top model Naomi Campbell.
In his closing remarks, Habanos S.A. co-president Inocente Núñez praised the interest in Cuban cigars and noted that with an 800 square meter exhibition ground, the recently closed trade fair has been the most attended.
The festival´s fair included 61 stands representing Italy, Germany, Canada, China, Brazil, Spain and Cuba.
As many as 1,650 people from 60 countries and some 250 journalists from nearly 30 nations attended the festival.
One of the event’s main draws was the variety of products presented by 45 Cuban exhibitors, some of them directly related to this agro-industry, including the production of humidors and cigar boxes.
Executives from the Cuban cigar industry announced that the sector closed the year 2014 with more than $400 million in income, and a production quota on the international market surpassing the 70 percent.
However, the main attractions were the launching of the Romeo y Julieta Gran Reserva Wide Churchills (five-year-old) and Montecristo with its special 80th anniversary cigar band (Cuba exports 27 cigar brands to some 150 countries).
PLANTATIONS IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Visits to Cuban cigar plantations and factories are significant to learn more about this agro industry.
Hence, the tours of tobacco fields in the westernmost province of Pinar del Río, the country’s leading tobacco growing region, served this purpose.
The San Luis and San Juan y Martínez mountain ranges afforded the right scenarios. One of the local tobacco growers welcomed the visitors and showed his skills.
Forty-five year old Iván Máximo Pérez, who was nominated for the Habano of the Year Award in 2012, happily chatted with the visitors.Share on FB Share on TT