International Fair raises new expectations about travel and tourist options in Cuba

Posted: 20-May-16 17:25

As the most important event of its kind in the island, the 36th International Fair of Tourism FITCUBA 2016 -which took place this May in Havana- hosted more than 2,000 delegates from 50 nations, including 200 American businessmen. The improvement in the political climate between the U.S. and the Cuban governments after more than 50 years of tensions is one of the reasons why Cuba is in the scope of many investors and travel agencies.

International Fair raises new expectations about travel and tourist options in Cuba

Cuba will receive about 3,800,000 visitors by the end of 2016, officials in the Ministry of Tourism said during the International Fair of Tourism FITCUBA 2016, where new business opportunities were discussed in order to improve the island´s tourism infrastructure and the connections with clients and investors from around the world.

The process of diplomatic negotiations between the governments of the United States and Cuba that kicked off in 2014, has caught the attention of many investors around the world, who are now keener than ever to find their business opportunities in the Caribbean island before Americans increase their presence in the market.

Manuel Marrero, head of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, confirmed at FITCUBA that the highest priority in the tourism sector for upcoming years is to diversify and improve the quality of Cuban products and offers. Tourism infrastructure in the island is insufficient to cope with the amount of travellers that will be arriving over the next few years, while the quality and variety of the services is a weak aspect of the industry, which is mostly in the hands of state-owned enterprises.

This year, more than 1,500,000 tourists have travelled to Cuba, marking a 13 per cent increase in visitors compared to the same period last year. In 2015, the tourism industry contributed with 2,800 million USD to the Cuban economy.

By the end of April this year, 76 new agreements for hotel management and marketing were signed between 17 foreign companies and Cuban officials. During FITCUBA, Manuel Marrero also confirmed that 23 new agreements of this kind will be sealed in the next months.

Negotiations with American businesses that directly or indirectly benefit the Cuban tourism industry are the most relevant and given higher priority by the Cuban side. Some large companies, such as Starwood, American Airlines, and Carnival have received authorisation from the U.S. government to operate regular air travel, cruises and hotels in Cuba. Most of them have presented their projects to the Cuban authorities, and are waiting for authorisation to start operating on the island, while others, like Carnival cruises, have already started to provide their services.

At FITCUBA, officials from the Ministry of Tourism also revealed that last year over 161,000 Americans travelled to Cuba, while from January to April 2016, more than 94,000 have visited the island.


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