HAVANA._With the announcement late in 2014 that Cuba welcomed three million foreign visitors -5.3 percent more than in 2013-, this Caribbean tourist destination is bound to continue increasing development in the tourism sector.
The statement issued on December 17, 2014 that Washington and Havana will work towards reestablishing relations broken more than 50 years ago by the U.S., brings added value to the expected uninterrupted growth in Cuba’s tourism. Hence, the possibility exists for an increase in number of U.S. visitors to Cuba, depending on two important elements: the elimination of travel restrictions for U.S. citizens and the lifting of the economic, financial and commercial blockade against Cuba.
The record figure of three million visitors to Cuba by the end of 2014 is expected to bring with it huge prospects and significant changes for the Cuban tourism industry. Of the more than 61,000 rooms Cuba has at some 300 hotels, 63 percent are rated four and five star accommodation facilities. Cuba’s main tourist destinations are the Varadero beach resort in the western province of Matanzas (32 percent of rooms), Havana (23 percent), the northern region of Villa Clara province (10 percent), Jardines del
Rey archipelago (central-northern coast with 8.6 percent) and the eastern province of Holguín (8.2 percent).
Cuba also has three cruise ship terminals, seven marinas, and 10 international airports. According to sectors sources, highlights of the list of Cuban tourist facilities are the Meliá Marina Varadero Hotel, with 423 rooms and 122 apartments, Eurostar, Santa María, with 846 rooms, Pestana Cayo Coco, with 468 rooms, and REX, in Santiago de Cuba, and the enlargement of the Blau Costa Verde- with more than 400 rooms.
The list also includes the Paradisus Princesa del Mar Hotel (168 rooms) which, along with the restoration of some 3,000 rooms throughout the country, provide the Cuban tourism industry with a proper infrastructure. A number of hotels also have management contracts and commercialization agreements with 16 foreign hotel chains involving 28,510 rooms at 60 facilities. The figures also include a strategy that involves private rooms for rent and restaurants. All those elements combined are likely to account for significant growth in the sector’s key indicators.
By Tino Manuel, The Havana Reporter, p. 16
Photos: Courtesy of trabajadores