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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: Investment Potential in Expansion

Cuba's tourism industry, a fast-growing economic sector in the Caribbean island, also attracts the interest of foreign investors due to the rapid increase in tourist arrivals.

In 2016, Cuba received four million foreign vacationers for the first time, and the island-nation is expected to welcome 4.2 million travelers this year.

Cuba's development as a tourist destination is accompanied by a growing presence of foreign chains that operate in several sectors of the tourism industry.

In that regard, statistics on the first few months of 2017 show the presence of two dozen foreign companies that are running 95 hotels and more than 40,000 rooms, 97 percent of which are in four- and five-star establishments.

The companies are based in Spain, with 75 hotels under administration contracts, Canada, the United States, France, Italy, Portugal, Singapore and Switzerland.

From the latter is the management of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski Havana, which also holds exclusive shops like Versace, Armani, Montblanc and L'Occitane en Provence on the ground floor.

Four Points By Sheraton
Sea bottom in Cuba.
Manzana Hotel. Pool.

As a new element, a portfolio of opportunities consisting of 110 new projects that demand foreign investment was announced in the modality of administration contracts with financing.

In mid-2016, the group Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide inaugurated the Four Points by Sheraton Havana, the first hotel administered by a U.S. chain in Cuba in more than 50 years.

By destinations, Varadero groups 37 percent of hotels run by foreign managers, followed by Havana (22 percent), the keys off Villa Clara (16 percent) and Jardines del Rey (Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo), with 15 percent.

Among the latest announcements is the decision by Meliá Hotels International to take over the administration of another eight hotels in Cuba, in addition to the incorporation of foreign groups into programs to build golf courses.

The development strategy aims to renew the hotel rooms through restorations, enlargements and new constructions, and to increase the number of rooms and their standard.

Therefore, the plan is to diversify the tourist product, capture high-standard markets and expand the influence towards real estate development associated to golf courses, marinas and theme parks.

Cuba's tourism industry is also expanding its horizons with new options like ecotourism and the improvement of vacationers' quality of life.

In that regard, several medical facilities, hotels specialized in medical treatments and spas of medicinal water are available.

Furthermore, three dozen specialized diving centers operate nationwide and organize initiation courses and diving excursions in coral reefs and caverns following strict international standards for that activity.

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