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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: A Safe Destination for Leisure in the Caribbean

The largest Antillean island, one of the fastest-growing tourist destinations in the Caribbean over the past few years, is also a safe country to enjoy leisure in the region.

Amid an unfavorable international environment, characterized by the slowdown of the world economy and the negative consequences of the terror attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Cuba concluded the year with evident signs of recuperation regarding tourist arrivals.

The traditional offers of sun and beaches were reinforced by a wide variety of new options such as health and cultural tourism, congresses and incentives, and nautical and diving programs in specialized centers, in a bid to meet the needs of the most demanding vacationers.

Investments resulted in 3,500 hotel rooms, including new and remodeled ones, increasing the country's lodging capacity to 37,000 rooms, in an effort to meet the new challenges posed by the new year.

Cuban authorities confirmed that at least 2,500 new rooms would be completed in 2002, since five new tourists companies, operating as joint ventures, will begin the construction of hotels.

Renowned foreign firms such as Sol Meliá, Accor, NH Hotels and Superclubs were joined in 2001 by first-class consortiums like Spain's Barceló, which began running the Barceló Solymar Beach Resort in Varadero.

Cuba`s excellent beaches is one of the country`s main attractions
The infrastructure necessary for this activity has been developed
Travelers can enjoy many cultural options

Moreover, the entrepreneurial group Cubanacán S.A. laid the foundations for expansion, following the creation of the joint ventures COCOMAR, Bacunayagua S.A., Shanghai S.A. and Las Dunas S.A., the latter with high possibilities of running the Royal Hicacos Hotel in mid 2002.

In the Cuban capital, one of the country's major tourist destinations, with nearly five centuries of history, Habaguanex S.A. left 2001 behind with excellent results, including the reopening of the Telégrafo Hotel, after three years of complete restoration.

In eastern Cuba, the Jardines del Rey tourist region - nearly 80 kilometers of white-sanded beaches and crystal-clear waters - consolidated its position as the country's third major destination, visited by thousands of vacationers who bet on Cuba to spend their leisure time.

Several infrastructure works, such as the new Tropicana Cabaret in the western province of Matanzas, complemented all these achievements.

Last year's novelties also include the presentation of tourist offers in the Internet, linking Cuba and the Caribbean. That is the case of the Panamanian agency Vacacionar Travel S.A., which provides options to reserve hotels, plane tickets, car rentals and tourist packages on line.

Amid a still uncertain world economic panorama during the first few months of 2002, the Cuban leisure industry continues to develop optimistically, making new commitments and looking far beyond the next 12 months, with mid-term goals to receive more than five million tourists by 2005.

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