Cuba Expects To Receive 4.2 Million Tourists In 2017 / 14ymedio

Tourists ride in a horse carriage in Havana. (EFE)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, 19 January 2017 — Cuba is preparing to receive 4.2 million foreign tourists in 2017, with priority for investments in new and higher quality facilities for tourists, according to projections announced Wednesday by management of the island’s Ministry of Tourism (Mintur).

Cuba’s Deputy Minister for Tourism, Mayda Álvarez, speaking on a state TV program dedicated to the sector, said that the record of 4 million international visitors to the island in 2016 represented a growth of 14.5 percent compared to 2015, in a state television program dedicated to the prospects from the sector.

But she noted that there “dissatisfactions” remain and there are “challenges” to improving the quality of services, the effectiveness of investments to ensure the vitality and image of tourist facilities, improve marketing and achieve greater diversification of tourism products.

José Reinaldo Alonso, investment and development director of Mintur, explained that among the plans this year is to promote activities linked to nature, heritage and cultural tourism.

With regards to this, he mentioned that Cuba ended last year with 66,547 rooms, and expects to have an increase in capacity of another four thousand in 2017.

Cuba closed last year with 66,547 rooms, and expects to have another four thousand ready in 2017

The official said that by the year 2020 the country expects is expected to add 20,000 new rooms to reach a total of 104,000 by 2030, in order to meet the high demand in the main tourist centers of the Caribbean country such as Havana, Varadero, Holguin, Cayería Norte and Trinidad.

He indicated that tourism is currently the sector with the largest foreign investment, with 110 new projects approved. However he is determined to streamline the bidding process and for this purpose has introduced management contracts with financing.

Officials said that in the previous year’s growth the North American region remained the largest supplier of travelers to Cuba, with Canada as the leader, followed by the United States; with the latter not having eased travel restrictions and authorized direct commercial flights to the island, although traveling to the island solely as a tourist is still formally prohibited.