Cuba Receives Three Million Visitors in 2018

Cuba has received three million international visitors so far this year and projects better results for the next winter season, today reported the Tourism Ministry (MINTUR) in this Caribbean country.

According to the source, the arrivals continued their upward trend in 2018 despite the campaigns organized and directed by the United States government to discourage the flow of North American visitors to this island.

The main markets were Canada, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia, Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Chile, the announcement said.

'These results are obtained as a prelude to the next winter season where figures are expected to be higher than those reached in the same period of the previous stage', assessed the MINTUR.

The reception of three million foreign visitors shows 'the trust and recognition achieved by Cuban tourism as a destination for peace, health and safety,' says the agency.

According to official reports, the promotion of the national tourism industry considers the incorporation of more than 9,000 rooms of new construction by 2019.

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U.S. Citizens Take Strong Interest in Cuba

HAVANA.- The influx of U.S. tourists to Cuba is one of the topics that draws much attention from journalists specialized in tourist issues, as evidenced at a meeting recently held here.

As stated by professor Paolo Spadoni, of the Augusta University (Georgia, USA), if restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens to Cuba were lifted, about 3.5 million of them would visit the island.

Spadoni addressed about 65 communicators -mainly from Latin America - present at the 13th International Journalism and Tourism Seminar, held from June 25 to 29.

The meeting, held at Havana's José Martí International Journalism Institute, gathered representatives from 12 nations, including the host country.

During his talk, the U.S. professor noted that over one million U.S. visitors could come to the island in the short term if the travel restrictions imposed by the government of president Donald Trump were lifted.

His lecture, entitled "The Impact of the new measures taken by the current U.S. government on tourism in the Caribbean,' dealt with topics that went from the actions taken by former U.S. president Barack Obama to the intensification of Trump's measures against Cuba, and its impact on the Caribbean region.

The specialist opened his talk by analyzing the start of the normalization process between the United States and Cuba, on December 17, 2014. In this sense, he referred to the changes made by Obama in relation to the economic sanctions, and the subsequent 'warming of the thaw'.

He also talked about the development of international tourism in Cuba, the business possibilities for both countries and the impact of the measures taken by Trump, which intensified the restrictions Washington has imposed on Havana for over 50 years.

Spadoni recalled that Cuba's main economic source of income in the first half of the 1990s was the sugarcane industry, and then tourism, to which the provision of professional services is now added.

He stressed that tourism continues to be an important source of liquidity and reserve.

The professor also mentioned that Canada is Cuba's first issuing market - 1,134,225 visitors came last year- followed by the United States -more than one million including Cubans who reside in the U.S. This data show the potential Cuba has for the U.S. visitors.

The measures taken by Obama eased the U.S. restrictions on travel, remittances, trade, investment, bank and financial operations, among others.

However, these measures didn't have a chance to attain much progress in practice, because of Trump's restrictions.

Nonetheless, the 12-category measure is still in force for those who want to come to Cuba from the United States, while the number of cruise ships continues to increase, the expert said.

The seminar also dealt with issues related to the country's heritage, technology and tourism, the hotel business and other topics of interest.

The Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) General Manager for Development, José Daniel Alonso, referred to topics related to the sector and stated his confidence on receiving 4.7 million foreign visitors by the end of 2018 - a figure reached in 2017.

Communicators from Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Panama, Argentina, Colombia, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Uruguay, Peru, Mexico and the United States attended the meeting, in addition to the host country.

After three days of theoretical sessions and talks, the participants toured tourist places in Havana and facilities of Varadero resort.

The 14th edition of the seminar, to take place in late June 2019, is expected to welcome a higher number of Cuban and foreign press.

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Growing Investments in Cuban Tourism (PART IV)

Havana, Jul 14 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's investment process in tourism covers many aspects to diversify the offer beyond sun and beach options.

That is why, the general director for development at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Jose Daniel Alonso, considers other spheres of interest.

The variety of options is broad, with the presence of the Spanish chain Meliá in the central-southern city of Cienfuegos and in neighboring Trinidad, where it will open the 350-room Meliá Trinidad Hotel, currently in the ground-breaking stage.

For its part, the Spanish group Iberostar will run the Ancon Trinidad Hotel, whose construction will start in October.

The list of real estate developments also includes the Trinidad Plaza, small hotels in heritage cities and for circuits, the boost of Viñales (since 2017 with a hotel in that city) and nature as a product in development.

The promotion of tourism in Gibara and the eastern city of Baracoa (the first village founded by the Spanish conquistadors in Cuba) is part of a big and well-designed program, consisting of large and small establishments in several destinations to facilitate circuit tourism.

The plans in the aforementioned cities, as well as in Sancti Spiritus and Camagüey, are carried out in conjunction with prestigious companies like Meliá and Iberostar.

Alonso also referred to the beginning of operations in Cuba by the French chain Louvre Hotel.

Foreign investments in Cuban tourism will also target camping sites, a favorite option for Cuban families. Operations in this sector will involve firms from Italy and France, which are already assessing the works.

The Cuban official added theme and aquatic parks to the list of investments. In Varadero, a German group will build two of those facilities, while in Havana, studies are under way for the construction of an aquatic park.

In mid-2018, Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero pointed out that 17 cruise companies with 25 ships operate in the country, and in the first semester of this year, that modality grew 28.6 percent.

Moreover, 70 airlines fly to Cuba from 73 major cities of the world, there are 27 joint ventures that run more than 5,000 hotel rooms, and 21 hotel managements. The plan also includes four joint ventures in real estate and golf courses.

The portfolio of investments consists of 140 projects, plus 2,152 private restaurants (known as 'paladares') and 23,185 rooms in inns, all of which function under the auspices of the MINTUR.

According to executives, those statistics show trust in Cuban tourism, in the country's security and, above all, in its people's kindness.

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Growing Investments in Cuban Tourism (PART III)

Havana, Jul 13 (Prensa Latina) The information on the investment process in Cuban tourism includes an increase in 2018 that will make the country be among the main Caribbean destinations.

The general director for development at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Jose Daniel Alonso, disclosed statistics that illustrate that growth in the leisure industry.

One of the examples of growth is in cruise tourism and the arrivals of holidaymakers in that modality.

Even in November 2018, he noted, there is a possibility that a new U.S. cruise line might join the others visiting Cuba, despite the restrictions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump.

One of the basic ideas in that regard is that Havana becomes the Port of Call for that kind of travel, as happens with the ship MSC Opera.

Cuban authorities are also promoting nautical activities in ports run by Marina Darsena in Varadero and the marina in Santiago de Cuba. On July 27, a hotel will be inaugurated in the Segundo Frente region, a mountainous area near the city of Santiago de Cuba, to promote nature tourism.

Authorities are aware of the importance of the so-called Tarea Vida (Task Life), which is aimed at preserving the environment, as part of a plan in conjunction with the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment (CITMA), including the recovery and improvement of several beaches.

In that direction, sand has been poured in Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria to improve the ecological systems in those resorts.

The investment process also includes health tourism and the improvement of the quality of life, which will give a particular boost through partners in Turkey who are looking for places with thermal waters and the rescue of medicinal spas like Elguea, Lagos de Mayajigua and San Diego.

Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero said that the country's hotels offer 69,041 rooms, including 63 percent in four- and five-star establishments and 74 percent by the beach.

Cuba has 110,415 workers in the tourism sector, 41.2 percent of whom are women and 48 percent are under 45 years of age.

Last year, the island received 4,689,896 foreign visitors, accounting for an increase of 11.6 percent, although in the eight first months of 2017, tourist arrivals rose 26 percent, but Hurricane Irma reduced the flow of holidaymakers in September.

The fastest-growing tourist-sending markets were the United States, Russia, Italy and France. Canada ranks in the first place with 1,134,225 vacationers, while Germany, Spain, France, Italy and the United Kingdom are recovering their positions as tourist-sending markets.

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Growing Investments in Cuban Tourism (PART II)

Havana, Jul 12 (Prensa Latina) Cuba's investments in tourism are growing at present with a view to boosting the development of the travel industry, according to official reports.

The general director for development at the Cuban Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR), Jose Daniel Alonso, is enthusiastic in that regard and is optimistic about the growing spiral in that sector.

That important investment process will add 5,000 hotel rooms in 2019, totaling 9,500 rooms completed at the end of next year.

Among the examples presented by the official is the Packard Hotel, which is scheduled for completion in 2019 in Havana.

Another program in charge of MINTUR is the extra hotel sector, which is progressing more slowly, due to the impact of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, but it will have a similar importance for the country's tourist development.

That program covers the north coast of central Ciego de Avila province, Cayo Santa Maria and Varadero Beach, including improvements in the hotel rooms.

Alonso recalled that on September 15, 2017, all Cuban tourist destinations were operational despite the damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

The executive highlighted Santiago de Cuba as a region that attracts many holidaymakers, because it is closely linked to the country's history and culture.

Another region where investments are being made is Havana, which will turn 500 years on November 16, 2019, thus the importance of prioritizing the Cuban capital.

These projects are complemented by the development of real estate companies, as a result of which two joint ventures were set up in the Bellomonte region in Havana.

Two new joint ventures will start up operations in 2018, one of which works in Punta Colorada, in western Pinar del Rio province, where it carries out projects consisting of a marina and a tourist port in its second stage on the Guanahacabibes Peninsula.

El Salado Beach, relatively near Havana, benefits from a real estate project by the Spanish group Globalia and the company AirEuropa. Works are scheduled for completion in 2019.

In that regard, 95 management contracts have been signed with 21 companies, and MINTUR is seeking to attract more foreign high-rank firms like Switzerland's Kempinski, India's Mundo Hoteles, and other enterprises from countries like Singapore.

In total, Cuban authorities handle 140 opportunity projects in tourism in the hotel and extra hotel sectors and new projects. There are also 13 real estate plans, 11 of which have already been identified.

That investment process is based on an increase in foreign tourist arrivals in the country, which must be visited by 4.7 million holidaymakers this year, according to official estimates.

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