Cuba Boosts Tourism Industry and Plans to Develop "Virgin Regions"
Cuba received a record one million tourists in the first four months and
announced a policy of "real estate development" associated with boosting
marinas, golf courses and other tourist investments, mainly in "virgin
Cuban emigrants have become the main source of tourists for the island
said Minister Manuel Marrero Cuban emigrants have become the main source
of tourists for the island said Minister Manuel Marrero
At a press conference during the 30th annual FITCUBA tourism fair in
Havana, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said that the island received
1,053,000 visitors between January and April, a figure that represents
the "highest four-month period in the history of Cuban tourism". The
figure is an increase of 101% over the number of tourists who came to
Cuba during the same period in 2009, although tourism revenues for the
two periods were "similar."
Marrero referred to the significance of the visits to the island by
Cuban emigrants and said that their numbers "continue increasing" and
have improved by around 50% compared with 2009. The minister said that
Cubans living abroad "are becoming one of the most important segments"
for the island's tourism sector, adding that arrivals from the United
States and other parts of the world "are increasing."
Regarding development plans, the minister said that work is progressing
on the construction of new hotels at the main tourism spots, while
projects are in the works for the virgin keys in the northern part of
Cuba and to convert Havana Bay into "an extraordinary tourist port."
"This, without any doubt, will allow the beginning of another phase in
the development of Cuban tourism, with the entry of new segments and the
execution of investments in zones with tourist potential that still have
not been exploited," Marrero said.
Although he provided no further details about the type of real estate
development that is being proposed, he said that it will be associated
with boosting marinas, golf courses and other tourist investments,
mainly in "virgin regions." In 2009 Cuba received 2.43 million tourists,
a 3.5% rise compared with 2008, and Canada remained the main
Marrero said that in the case of the European markets, the behaviour has
been more unstable—only Spain has shown any growth—while in Latin
America there exists an "important (upward) trend" in Argentina.
In addition, he emphasized that the internal market "occupies a more
noteworthy place each day," after in 2008 the government of President
Raúl Castro eliminated restrictions on allowing Cubans living on the
island access to hotels previously reserved for foreign visitors.