A Cruise Ship and a Chinese Hotel in Cuba, Prime Minister Marrero Promises Beijing to Attract Tourists

Manuel Marrero during his interview in China, a month ago. (Screen capture)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, December 5, 2023 —  A month has passed since Prime Minister Manuel Marrero visited China on a trip to Belarus and Russia, and his exclusive interview conducted by the CGTN television channel, owned by the Government of Beijing for international broadcast. The prime minister reveals some details about how he plans to attract more Chinese tourism, with some ideas as simple as the inclusion of electric kettles to boil water in hotel rooms, so that guests of the Asian giant can drink hot water, in accordance with their custom.

The measure is brought up by the interviewer who spoke with Marrero, — previously Cuba’s Minister of Tourism before his appointment as Prime Minister. The interview, conducted for the Leaders Talk program, delved into whether the Cuban Government plans to adapt to such tastes. Marrero affirms that, within the plan to attract the Chinese market, the language is a priority, and promises that there are plans to include it in the island’s signage. In addition, he admits with a laugh, even if Cubans only plan to drink fresh water, thermoses will be able to help make other temperatures available to Chinese travelers.

Among the developments specified by the Cuban prime minister, the arrival of a Chinese cruise ship based in the port of Havana is projected for next year

Among the developments detailed by the Marrero the arrival of a Chinese cruise ship based in the port of Havana is projected for next year, and it is planned that the ship will make tours throughout the Caribbean. In addition, he mentioned the construction of a hotel “with Chinese characteristics” also in the capital, which will be “symbolically seen as the foundations of a great commercial bridge linking both nations.”

The idea is not new, quite the opposite. The official press already announced an establishment that was to be built with mixed Chinese and Cuban capital in 2010 in the Hemingway Marina, that was then valued at 117 million dollars. In 2019, the press took up the matter, stating that the Asian giant was investing around 700 million dollars in “new high-level hotels,” including a golf complex valued at 500 million dollars.

Ultimately, nothing has been finalized and it remains to be seen if it will happen now, when Cuba is going through one of the moments of greatest depression in its tourism sector. Marrero, however, stated in the interview in Beijing that the Government “has decided” in its Economic and Social Development Plan to have tourism as a strategic sector.

“And it is not by chance,” claims the prime minister, “Cuba is a country that has potential that is exceptional,” he says, listing the number of 250 national monuments, nine sites declared World Heritage Sites by UNESCO, national parks, international airports, ports… “But, above all things, there is a people that is very cultured and very hospitable, who receive all the tourists in the world and makes them feel as if they were in their own homes,” he continues, insisting that the regime is not waiting “for things to fall from the sky.”

  We have several products that are already being marketed today and that are produced in our country with a different quality.

“We are not waiting for the blockade to disappear, we continue to fight and look for alternative solutions with the conviction that we are going to get out of this situation,” he says, noting the agreements that will allow increased flights between both countries.

Beyond tourism, of which he is an expert after 15 years as minister of that realm, Marrero thanked his Chinese host for his time in the country, where he was invited to the VI China International Import Exhibition, held in Shanghai, and visited the stand with which Cuba aspires to open to the Asian market. “We have several products that are already being marketed today and that are produced in our country with a different quality,” he said, prominently mentioning rum, lobster and other seafood products. Although possibly the mention that will cause the most annoyance among the population is that of coffee.

“We are making investments to increase production in the country, but we have a lot of demand for coffee,” he stated, while in the island’s rationstores the product is conspicuous by its absence and the quality is getting worse every day.

In the interview, Marrero also talks about the importance that foreign relations have for Cuba

In the interview, Marrero also talks about the importance that foreign relations have for Cuba – a moment in which he refers to the G-77 Summit plus China held in Havana in September – and the annual vote against the embargo, which has “great significance” for the regime. “One of the main objectives of the blockade and this media war that the United States Government has is to try to isolate us from the world and try to create a matrix of opinion that Cuba is a country that does not work, that it is a system that has already failed,” he explains with the usual arguments. “But once a resolution like this is presented and 187 countries raise their hands for Cuba, it is shown that it is not alone, that it continues to be present in the world, being an example of resistance, of struggle, of its own criteria, of principles and courage. And that is very recognized.”

There was also room, in the almost half hour of interview, for praise of Xi Jiping and of Fidel Castro – “a great promoter, when he created a company to develop everything related to moringa” – and the Chinese system, of which, he affirmed that this should be taken into account for “the economic and social development of our country.”

Marrero said goodbye to the presenter, with thanks for the “exceptional visit, with a transcendental experience” that his time in China represented, where he was also able to see the Communist Party Museum. The trip has “marked a before and after,” he said to end with a national speech. “Thank you very much. We will remain firm, walking at a firm pace, Hasta la victoria siempre.”


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