Havana will be re-launched as a renewed tourist destination

The 500th anniversary of Havana will be the opportunity to relaunch the capital as a renewed and updated tourist destination, said Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz.

Marrero said in recent statements to the weekly magazine Opciones that they take advantage of major events to update the tourism product and make new investments that contribute to development, and the half a millennium of the town of San Cristobal is no exception.

He said that in the country are averaged about five thousand new rooms for this year, and in the case of the capital, from this time until next year, must be put into operation 12 new accommodation facilities.

Marrero Cruz commented that most will be small and medium buildings, using houses with heritage values, such as Portales de Paseo and others with tourism prospects given to them by the Government.

Now we are going through a process of recovery and transformation to convert them into hotels of medium-high standard, and are promoted works in several locations in the Siboney neighborhood, Miramar, as well as the so-called Blue Vedado, in the Plaza de la Revolución.

The development program itself will also allow, before November 2019, the opening in Old Havana of the Prado y Malecón hotel, the Gran Hotel, and the Cueto.

He commented that in Havana there are more than 12 thousand rooms, but more than half of them have a three-star category, which is why the new investments are aimed precisely at incorporating a very competitive hotel plant such as the Kempinski Manzana and the Packard.

The change of image is one of the most important processes in cities that celebrate closed number anniversaries, in the case of the capital highlights, above all, the large investment that is made in the recovery of heritage, he said.

He said that in the extra-hotel network there are several facilities that in one way or another renew their product, an aspect in which the Palmares Group works.

It is planned to repair units such as La Cecilia, El Floridita, La Bodeguita del Medio, El Gato Tuerto and La Ferminia, a very nice restaurant but with a not very competitive product, he said.

The restaurant Don Cangrejo will be transformed into a club of high level, with gastronomic service of high category, it has a magnificent swimming pool next to the sea, however today it is limited to some nocturnal activities and to the gastronomy, he explained.

He added that the technically closed La Giraldilla recreational centre will become a family, recreation and leisure product.

For the 500th anniversary of the city, the Ministry also proposed to rehabilitate the old discotheque of the Comodoro Hotel, which has been closed for many years.

Hacienda Guanabito, located in Guanabo, will have a total restoration that will include peasant houses and a stable that will allow customers to enjoy a Creole atmosphere.

He announced that there is a plan to transform tourist shops such as Primera and B, in the Vedado, and the Palacio de Artesanía, in the Historic Center.

In the case of the Marina Hemingway will continue the work, while in the Marina Tarará there is an extensive program that will promote the change of image and products, he said.

He added that the Tourism Plan for Havana's anniversary has around 40 actions of broad magnitude and interaction, either in the construction of facilities or in total transformations.

More than 50 percent of the visitors that arrive to the Island do so through the capital; practically Havana defines the image of tourism in Cuba, commented the Minister of Tourism.

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New Cruise Ship Itineraries to Link Cuba to the World

New cruise ship itineraries will reportedly link Cuba with the tourism world next year, thus showing the growing attraction of this island for vacations.

A report published by the Cruise Industry News website on this subject has been reproduced by Cuban media. Starting next February, the cruise company Silversea will incorporate Cuba into its itineraries, according to these reports.

The company has announced a series of voyages to the island from the United States for the first time in its history, joining other cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Norwegian that sail regularly between both countries since 2017.

According to a company statement, Silversea has planned 17 cruises to Cuba from 2019 to 2020.

The report adds that Cuba is an extraordinary island, so they are pleased to offer their guests the opportunity to discover the most authentic sounds, sights and flavors of their culture, while contacting their travel agent meticulously trained.

For Silversea CEO Roberto Martinoli, since the opportunity to travel to Cuba on cruise ships was opened to Americans, they have been waiting for this moment.

For his part, Silversea's director for the Americas, Mark Conroy, added that they are pleased to have Cuba in their 2019 and 2020 travel collection.

He said Cuba is the fastest growing destination in the Caribbean, which many luxury cruise passengers are eager to explore, knowing they can enrich their experience with a fresh perspective on the people, traditions and natural wonders of this island.

As part of the company's plans, the Silver Wind will open the Silversea to Cuba cruise season on February 14, 2019, when it will sail from San Juan de Puerto Rico to Fort Lauderdale on a seven-night voyage to include visits to Havana, Santiago de Cuba, and Bimini.

The Silver Spirit will depart San Juan on February 22nd on a 10-night cruise that includes a one-night stay in Santiago de Cuba and stops in Cienfuegos and Havana, as well as stops at George Town, Key West and Bimini, before closing the voyage in Fort Lauderdale.

The report added that on March 31, the Silver Wind will sail from San Juan and visit Santiago and Havana on one-night stopovers, as well as Cienfuegos. The 10-night itinerary will also travel through George Town (Cayman Islands) and Bimini.

In April, departing from Fort Lauderdale on the 10th, the Silver Wind will sail a nine-night cruise that will make one-night stops in Havana and Santiago, in addition to arriving in Bimini, Nassau and Port Canaveral.

There will be a 14-night cruise on the Silver Whisper, departing November 22 from Fort Lauderdale. The round trip will include a visit to Cienfuegos and overnight stays in Santiago de Cuba and Havana, as well as port in Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize City and Key West.

He concluded the statement by declaring that Cuba will be part of Silversea's itineraries on another 12 cruises throughout 2020.

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Uzbekistan, Cuba eye to develop co-op in tourist sector

Uzbek Foreign Minister Abdulaziz Kamilov received the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba Ana Teresita Gonzalez Fraga on Sept. 24, 2018, Uzbek media reported.

According to the Uzbek Foreign Ministry's press service, the Cuban delegation arrived in Tashkent on a working visit.

During the meeting, the diplomats discussed the state of bilateral relations. They noted an interest in deepening the Uzbek-Cuban dialogue in various areas of mutual interest.

Despite the geographical distance, Uzbekistan and Cuba are ready to develop economic ties, using the high potential and real opportunities of both countries.

During the meeting, the diplomats also exchanged views on the prospects for expanding tourist, cultural and humanitarian exchanges on a mutually beneficial basis.

On the same day, the Foreign Ministry hosted the first round of inter-MFA political consultations. Cuban Ambassador Alfredo Nieves Portuando took part in the negotiations.

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Venezuela and Cuba Consolidate Cooperation in Tourism

Venezuelan Minister of Tourism, Stella Lugo, and her Cuban peer, Manuel Marrero, had a meeting to evaluate cooperation between both nations in that sector, as part of the work tour that Lugo is carrying out in Cuba.

The meeting included the updated presentation of the sector's progress in the Caribbean nation, where the Cuban representative exposed the potentialities and challenges of this activity, says a press release published by the foreign ministry of Venezuela.

During the meeting held at the headquarters of the Cuban ministry, Marrero gave a detailed explanation on the peculiarities of international and local tourism, the impact of the U.S. blockade on the nation as well as the business opportunities offered by this territory.

For her part, Lugo, who makes her first visit abroad, thanked her peer for the advice given to Venezuela by the island for some years now regarding this sector. The Venezuelan high official also recognized the advances of the island in this activity despite the U.S. unilateral blockade, which has generated damages for over 26 billion dollars, according to data offered by the Cuban Minister in his presentation

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Cuba receives 2,5 Mln tourists in first half 2018

Cuba is on track to meet its target of drawing 5 million foreign visitors by the end of 2018, with 2.5 million international tourists arriving in the first half of the year, local media reported on Saturday.

The latest tourism figures were released during a cabinet meeting presided over by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, state daily Granma said.

Cuba's Tourism Ministry was lauded for its efforts to recover tourism flows in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which lashed northern Cuba in 2017.

The strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, Irma caused damage to some resorts, but officials moved quickly to rebuild and renovate them since tourism is one of Cuba's leading economic engines.

In 2017, 4.7 million foreign visitors traveled to Cuba, an 11.6-percent increase from the year before.

Considered a strategic industry for the Caribbean island nation, tourism generates annual revenues of more than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, the second-biggest foreign revenue-earning industry after exports.

The industry has contributed 10 percent of Cuba's national budget and provided half a million jobs.

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U.S. Tourism to Cuba Revives After Months-Long Trump Slump-Sources

U.S. tourism in Cuba bounced back in June from a months-long slump, bolstered by increased visits from cruise ships that have emerged as the most vibrant part of a sector hurt by deteriorating relations under President Donald Trump.

Three different sources with access to Cuban tourism industry data said 68,000 Americans, not including Americans of Cuban origin on family visits, travelled to the island in June, a 5 percent increase from a year ago.

Even with that revival, the number of U.S. visitors to Cuba for the first half overall - not including Cuban-Americans - slumped 24 percent to 266,000, the sources said.

In the period January through June, some 50 percent of those U.S. visitors arrived on cruise ships, compared with 25 percent a year earlier, as operators such as Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd added more stops on the island to their itineraries.

The drop in U.S. travel in the first half in part mirrored a broader decline in the Cuban tourism industry as it struggled to recover from last year’s devastating hurricane season in the Caribbean, the sources said.

Still there was also a notable impact from the hostile Trump administration, which has sought to reverse some of Democratic former President Barack Obama's opening to the island and has cracked down on independent Cuban travel by Americans.

Overall tourist arrivals to Cuba were down over 5 percent in the January-June period to roughly 2.5 million. That figure included the number of visitors arriving on cruise ships during the first six months, which was 379,000, up 45 percent.

In terms of boosting the economy, cruise arrivals tend to spend little, while those vacationing on the island spend much more at hotels, bed and breakfasts and restaurants.

The U.S. trade embargo restricts Americans who visit the island to non-tourist activities such as cultural, religious and educational travel or family visits.

The overall visitor numbers also included Cuban-Americans visiting their homeland. That number increased by 21 percent during the first half of this year, to more than 250,000, compared with the same period in 2017, in part because it has become more difficult for relatives to visit the United States, the sources said.

Unexplained health incidents that sickened 26 U.S. diplomats, which the United States has sometimes referred to as attacks, led Washington to cut its Havana embassy to a skeletal staff last year, forcing Cubans to travel to third countries for U.S. visas.

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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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Domestic Market Grows in Cuban Tourist Destination

Ciego de Avila, Cuba, Jul 2 (Prensa Latina) National tourism is today the second largest visitor market for the King's Gardens (Jardines del Rey) recreation center, located on the northern coast of the central province of Ciego de Avila.

The sub-delegate of the Ministry of Tourism in the territory, Lesner Gomez, pointed out that for the current summer season they expect to surpass the figure of Cuban visitors in the 17 hotels of the Coco and Guillermo keys compared to the last stage.

National tourists will be able to enjoy a renovated hotel facility with better comfort, after the intense recovery process of the facilities seriously affected by the scourge of Hurricane Irma in last September, Gomez explained.

He stressed that the extra-hotel network was also remodeled with improvements in the image of its units, such as the dolphinarium, the Boat Adventure, the Marlin marinas of Guillermo Key and Gaviota on Coco Key, as well as the La Silla restaurant-parador and the mall, among others.

In July and August there will be excursions from the keys to the cities of Ciego de Avila and Moron, which will include visits to cultural, historical and nature sites.

King's Gardens has 17 hotel facilities with over 7,500 rooms, almost 40 kilometers of excellent beaches, lavish sea beds and a rich wildlife.

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