Category: Media & Culture / February 27, 2013 11:43 AM EST
The 15th Havana Cigar Festival opened in the Cuban capital on Tuesday (February 26), attracting hundreds of cigar aficionados from over 80 countries to its opening ceremony.
Bucking the trend in an increasingly smoke-free world, Habanos S.A., the worldwide distributor of Cuban cigars, reported that production of the iconic Cuban cigar was at near full capacity last year.
"This year (2012) there has been a considerable increase in production, almost one hundred percent of worldwide distributors. We have more stands, more exhibitors and hopefully more sales. I think that the festival's purpose is to promote the Havana (cigar) so that it continues to fulfill its purpose," said Habanos S.A. Co-President, Walfrido Hernandez.
Habanos S.A. announced Cuban cigar sales had hit $416 million in 2012 up from $410 million in 2011, thanks in part to increasing demand from emerging countries like Russia and China.
Habanos S.A. President Luis Sanchez Harguindey is hopeful the iconic cigar will see continued success in 2013.
"Looking ahead this year we hope to see further growth in units, in value and profitability is our goal, together with providing customers with the best possible experience when enjoying Havana," he said.
Beyond the iconic images of Cuban women lighting up and former President Fidel Castro puffing away, the Cuban government is keen to highlight the importance of global cigar sales for the cash-strapped island.
At each year's cigar festival, rare editions of cigars produced in small quantity are auctioned, and the cigars signed by Castro, in particular, are much sought after. The income of the auction is expected to be used for Cuba's public health sector.
Video Source: Reuters