Informacion economica sobre Cuba

Posted on Thu, May. 17, 2007

Cuba to spend $185M on tourism upgrades

Cuba to spend $185M on tourism upgrades

(AP) — Cuba will spend about $185 million to upgrade more than 200
resorts, golf courses, marinas and other tourist installations as part
of an effort to reverse a dip in the number of tourists visiting the island.

Tourism is the communist nation's leading source of revenue, but
Economics Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez has said the number of visitors
for 2006 was 2.2 million, down 100,000 from the previous year.
Washington's 45-year-old trade embargo prohibits American tourists from
going to Cuba and chokes off most trade between the countries.

At a tourism trade fair closed to the international news media last
week, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced the development plan
that will run through 2010 and seeks to make Cuba a more competitive
tourist destination. Marrero's announcement was detailed in this week's
Opciones, a state newspaper for foreign investors.

Marrero said that $162 million would help upgrade tourist facilities
other than hotels, including golf courses, yachting clubs and theme parks.

Some money will help expand hotel room capacity nationwide, building 50
small boutique-style inns around the country in addition to 10 already
under construction, Marrero said.

Other funds will help improve the country's outdated highway systems and
create more and better information for tourists to ''guarantee the
solidity and advancement'' of an industry that generates $2 billion

Opciones did not say how many tourists have visited Cuba so far this
year, but quoted Marrero as saying that “in 2007, for the fourth
consecutive year, the number will be greater than two million visitors.''

Many international visitors complain that Cuba is excessively expensive,
especially given a government-imposed tax that makes $1 worth just 0.80
Cuban convertible pesos when changed at an exchange house. Worth about
25 times the island's regular peso, convertible pesos are the currency
that drives nearly all tourist-related activities.

Tourism representatives have long promised to lobby the island's
authorities to scrap penalties on dollars and have been in discussions
with immigration officials to make visas easier to secure, Marrero said.

Also at the tourism trade fair, aviation officials announced that
airport terminals will be remodeled in the provincial cities of Santa
Clara, Manzanillo and Holguin, and improvements made to the airports in
Havana and the coastal resort of Varadero.

Heriberto Prieto, first vice president of Cuba's Civil Aviation
Institute, said nearly a dozen new planes were being added to the
island's passenger fleet.

Tourism became a major source of income for Cuba beginning in the 1990s
following the Soviet Union's collapse and the loss of critical aid and

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