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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: At the Gates of the Blue Beach

Cuba's tourism industry, a fast-growing economic sector, spreads to world-famous destinations that are visited by thousands of foreign holidaymakers every year.

In that context is Varadero Beach, which is in western Matanzas province and is considered Cuba's major coastal resort.

The city of Varadero was founded in 1887, when the first families settled in the area. In the early 20th century, the first hotel, La Torre, which no longer exists, was built.

With more than one million foreign visitors a year, Varadero has grown rapidly as a tourist destination where new hotels have been inaugurated.

Altogether, Varadero's hotels offer 21,388 rooms, more than 80 percent of which are in high-standard establishments.

The beach's crystal-clear water and fine white sand, as well as the combination of shades of blue and the very light submarine slope, provide more attraction to the region.

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Meliá Varadero. Bird`s-eye view
Paradisus Varadero Hotel. Nautical sports

Two dozen kilometers of excellent beaches complemented by natural attractions like caves, pristine keys and transparent water are linked to a broad infrastructure that can meet tourists' demands.

Varadero's sea bottoms are inhabited by nearly 40 kinds of corals, several species of fish, lobsters, shrimps, crabs, turtles and more than 70 varieties of mollusks.

In addition, the marinas Chapelin, Puertosol Dársena de Varadero and Gaviota guarantee the conditions and means for vacationers to practice scuba diving and snorkeling using their own boats, and provide professional personnel, diving instructors, hyperbaric chambers and emergency transportation as well.

Diving is practiced in the so-called Hoyo Azul Ojo del Mégano, a huge cave that is 70 meters in diameter and has underwater walls, coral reefs and large schools of multicolor fish.

The more than 300 hectares of Punta de Hicacos also hold aboriginal paintings in Cueva de Ambrosio and the ruins of La Calavera saltworks. The latter was the first salt mine to be exploited in the Americas during the Spanish colonial period.

In addition to sun and nature, Varadero offers the services of an International Parachuting Center and the Varadero Golf Club, the first professional 18-hole par 72 golf course built in Cuba.

Congresses and meetings also take place in Varadero, at the Plaza America Convention Center, which has a plenary hall that can sit 600 persons and seven additional halls for those who combine business and pleasure in a calm and pleasant environment.

From Varadero, holidaymakers can take excursions to Havana and central Cuba, especially to the cities of Trinidad, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara.

They can also visit the Zapata Swamp, in southern Matanzas province, which is the largest wetland in the Caribbean insular region and an excellent place to practice ecotourism.

In 2018, the city of Matanzas, the provincial capital, will celebrate its 325th anniversary.

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