Cuba eyes tourism investments, including from US
Wed May 5, 12:06 pm ET
HAVANA (AFP) – Cuba approved a new property law aimed at attracting
foreign investment in tourism projects like marinas and golf courses,
including from the United States if Washington reverses its embargo on
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced Tuesday that the government
adopted "a policy of real estate development linked to tourism" as part
of the strategy to boost such investment.
Tourism is one of the largest sources of hard currency for Cuba, which
gets about two billion dollars annually from visitors.
Marrerro, opening an international tourism fair, said Havana had
approved a legal instrument to regulate these marinas, golf courses and
other tourism investments.
Cuba received 2.4 million visitors in 2009, and has relied more on
foreign tourism since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which had
provided considerable aid to the regime.
But Americans are barred from spending money in Cuba under an economic
embargo in place since the 1960s.
Although the authorities would like to develop ecotourism and medical
tourism, the immediate interest is golf, a sport virtually unknown in
Cuba since the 1959 revolution.
Marrero met in March with US business leaders on prospects for American
investment if and when the embargo is lifted.
He said American tourism could be "important" for Cuba following any
move to lift the embargo.
US President Barack Obama has lifted travel and money transfer
restrictions on Cuban-Americans with relatives in Cuba.
But the US president opposes ending the economic embargo on Cuba until
Havana shows progress on human rights.