Cuba allows foreign investment in tourism
Golf went out of favour after the Cuban revolution in 1959
Cuba has announced plans to allow foreigners to develop golf courses,
marinas and related land projects to boost the nation's tourism industry.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said Havana was in advanced talks with
"several potential foreign partners".
The Communist government is reportedly considering granting foreigners
medium- to long-term leases of real estate, as Cuba prohibits foreign
Havana hopes the measures will attract more affluent tourists to the island.
Last year, some 2.4 million tourists visited Cuba, but many of them came
for short stays and spent less money.
'Golf is key'
"A policy was approved that permits real estate development associated
with tourism, fundamentally golf courses, marinas and other
complementary tourist investments," Mr Marrero said at Cuba's annual
International Tourism Fair on Tuesday.
He said the move aimed at "developing regions that today are virgin".
The cash-strapped Caribbean island now wants to attract a more affluent,
bigger-spending class of tourist and golf is seen as the key, the BBC's
Michael Voss in Havana says.
Currently there is only one 18-hole golf course in the whole of Cuba.
However, there are plans for 10 new courses, several of which are in an
advanced stage of planning.
A number of European and Canadian investment firms have proposed
building golf courses coupled with luxury sea front apartments and villas.
But in a country with no real estate market, where Cubans are not
allowed to buy or sell their homes, the government has long been wary of
allowing foreigners to own property, our correspondent says.
So under the new deal medium- to long-term leases may be allowed if
linked to golf courses.