Cuba: Europe’s new market
Produced by Beatriz Beiras
01/02 18:42 CET | updated 01:02
French President Francois Hollande was, in May last year the first
Western head of state to visit Cuba after the thaw in relations between
the Caribbean island and the US.
It was an investment for the future, a pragmatic move by the president
to lay foundations to grow political and economic partnerships.
French companies are already operating in Cuba with the Pernod Ricard
group part of a joint venture with Havana Rum. The company’s subsequent
global growth has been hailed as an unbridled success by International
Managing Director Jerome Cottin-Bizonne. Around 500 million bottles of
rum were sold last year.
But France is only the fourth foreign investor with Spain top of the
league followed by Canada and Italy.
French tourists number in the region of 117,000 a year and though that
figure will rise it is still far behind those travelling from Canada.
They represent over a third of the three and a half million who visited
the island in 2015 a rise of 17 percent since 2014.
But accommodation is a problem. There are just 63,000 rooms at the
moment putting the tourist industry under strain.Authorities aim to take
that number to 85,000 by 2020.
Foreign investment will be vital to help build Cuba’s infrastructure to
cope with tourists. Industry experts have voiced their concern the
island will not be able to absorb an even greater surge when US
commercial airline and ferry services start later this year.
The telecom industry is another area in need of investment. Cubans had
to rely on access via satellite to the web due to the US embargo. In
2011 Venezuela laid a fibre optic cable. The US has proposed a similar
link between Havana and Miami. But still only 150,000 Cubans were able
to connect to the internet each day in 2015. There are 11 million
inhabitants on the island.
European businesses are now visiting Cuba in unprecedented numbers. Last
year 75 companies accompanied Spain’s Minister of Industry, Energy and
Tourism Jose Manuel Soria. One hundred and forty Italian firms sent
“A new moment full of opportunities” is how the Spanish minister summed
up his visit.
One such opportunity is the Mariel economic zone which allows wholly
owned foreign companies to repatriate profits under a favourable tax regime.
Source: Cuba: Europe’s new market | euronews, world news –