The Cuban tourist sector, one of the most dynamic economic areas in the country, bets on an expansion strategy supported by improvements in quality and efficiency.
In face of the growing competition in the region where first class tourist destinations like Dominican Republic are located, the challenge lies in diversifying the offers by means of new recreational options.
The expansion in the tourist sector involves visitors´ access to private restaurants and lodging facilities as part of the options aimed at increasing service quality.
Officially, tourist agencies and facilities are authorized to contract private services in order to organize excursions for visiting groups.
The project includes rides on horses and carts or going for drive in one of the old classic cars which are still running on the country´s streets.
Apart from lodging facilities, restaurants or excursions, the Cuban tourist system can hire close to three dozen services which are offered by the non-governmental sector.
The abovementioned services include masonry, carpentry, locksmithing, glasswork, electricity, and gardening, as well as the construction, repair and maintenance of the tourist facilities.
The expansion of the private sector is shown by the existence of about 2,000 private restaurants which are commonly known in the island as “paladar” (palate).
The popular term comes from a Brazilian soap opera shown in Cuba in the 1990´s in which the main character owned a restaurant chain under that very name.
Likewise, there are close to 7,250 rooms and about 1,300 private houses which have the proper licenses to operate in their different modalities.
All these projects make up an extra-hotel option characterized by the high quality of their personalized gastronomic and lodging services.
The Cuban tourist industry currently operates 60,500 rooms with 63 percent in four- and five-star hotels.
In this sense, the most relevant destinations are in the western area of the country with 32 percent of the rooms in the tourist beach resort of Varadero and 23 percent in Havana, followed by the northern keys in the central province of Villa Clara, Jardines del Rey (King´s Gardens) in Ciego de Avila and Holguín.