US tour-operators for the first time at Cuban Tourism Fair

Havana, Cuba, May 6.- For the first time ever, more than 129 US travel agents and tour-operators are attending a Cuban tourism fair, said Tourism minister Manuel Marrero during the inauguration of the 35th edition of that event that runs till May 7 in central Ciego de Avila province.

Marrero said that a growing number of US executives have visited the island since the United States and Cuba announced on December 17 the process to reestablish diplomatic relations. However, he stressed that the US economic blockade against Cuba continues to be the main obstacle for US citizens to freely travel to the Caribbean nation as tourists.

Marrero made it clear that although US-Cuba negotiations are underway towards the normalization of relations, the island will never let down those nations that offered Cuba a hand in difficult moments.

Cuba received more than 3 million tourists in 2014, standing for 5.3 percent growth if compared to the previous year, while main tourist sources were Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Sweden, Brazil and Uruguay, the minister recalled.

At present the local tourist sector counts on 5 thousand 492 hotel rooms in four and five-star facilities, including 26 joint ventures. At the same time Cuba maintains hotel management contracts with 18 international hotel chains in 69 hotels, with Spain´s Melia Hotels International being the main partner. The Spanish group manages 27 tourist facilities and will soon mark its 25th anniversary of operations in Cuba.

As to the growing private initiative, the minister referred to 1 thousand 574 restaurants and 11 thousand 504 private homes offering tourist accommodation.

Cuba operates 10 international airports, which are the doors for 54 foreign airline companies flying to more than 60 cities of the world. The island is making efforts to increase the number of arrivals by those companies, said the minister who recalled that Spain´s Iberia airlines will resume flights to Cuba in June.(acn)

Radio Cadena Agramonte, May 6, 2015

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