The development of the hotel industry in Cuba has undeniable challenges in view of its sustainable growth and the quality of its services. This sector, constantly undergoing renovation, attracts the attention of international experts.
Accordingly over 250 executives and investors from twenty four countries including the United States gathered in Havana to explore Cuba’s potential at the Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment Conferences (SAHIC).
Michael Maisel, from the Washingtonbased Engage Cuba coalition, expressed his satisfaction with the meeting held at the Meliá Cohiba hotel, and reiterated his colleagues’ desire in relation to the lifting of the economic blockade imposed by the United States against Cuba for the last five decades.
After commenting that the event facilitated the strengthening of relations between Cuba and the United States, Maisel said he felt confident the Trump administration will favor business with the island nation.
Whatever the outcome, Engage Cuba would continue fighting to have links and relations with Cuba, he stressed. Leonard Vance Wormser, New Orleans’ Senior Managing Director of the Hospitality Division, made the highest number of contacts possible during the meeting, with the purpose to better approach the Cuban reality.
Vance Wormser is particularly interested in investment in the hotel industry, and hopes to develop tourist centres throughout Cuba.
SAHIC chairman Arturo García said Cuba could become the second tourist destination in Latin America, after Mexico. In this regard he highlighted that the achievement of such goals would depend on the participation of investors in the Cuban tourism sector, which could eventually reach, he said, over twelve million visitors per year.
SAHIC, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is responsible for investment projects in the hotel and leisure industry. Quality at the Forefront During the closing session of the SAHIC meeting, Cuban authorities stressed the need to guarantee service quality and investment projects. Cuban Tourism Ministry (MINTUR) Development chairman José Daniel Alonso gave details about business opportunities. Recalling that in 1990 there were over 18,666 hotel rooms in the country, he said today the number exceeds 67,000 in over 300 hotel facilities.
Alonso also referred to investments planned up to 2030, which include the construction of 224 new facilities and the expansion of another thirty two, plus the restoration of twenty three yacht clubs and another forty seven projects in the leisure and adventure sectors.
In line with the above, the Cuban official referred to seventeen projects to restore campismos (camping-style sites) and the work conducted on top hotel facilities like the Manzana Kempinski hotel (246 rooms), Varadero Internacional (934 rooms); Packard (321) and Prado y Malecón (250).
The ministry’s priorities, Alonso added, include the development of scuba diving, cultural tourism, events, health tourism, trips, nature tourism and the tourist related real estate sector.
He added that twenty seven joint ventures are already set up for the development of hotels and marinas; eleven investment projects are under construction and thirteen hotels are under contract of administration, for a total of 1,995 rooms.
Plans also include the 687-room Grand Kempinski Shanghai, to be managed by Cubanacán in China.
Alonso pointed out that Cuba already has ten international airports, seven yacht clubs and four cruise ship terminals, while sixty eight international airlines are now flying to Cuba from seventy major cities in the world.
There are also joint ventures for the construction and marketing fields, as well as for the development of real estate projects, management contracts and marketing and management of yacht clubs’ hotels and services.
There are over a hundred investment opportunities in hotel and yacht club construction and management, as well as marketing. Havana and its state of mind When addressing the audience, which included World Travel and Tourism Council chairman David Scowsill, Havana’s city historian Eusebio Leal Spengler described the Cuban capital as a “state of mind,” a safe and peaceful setting where people are the most important thing.
Likewise, Leal gave his opinion about the tourist sector’s development in the city, which will celebrate its five hundred year anniversary in 2019.
He talked about the huge efforts made to restore Old Havana, with its buildings full of history and traditions, and emphasized the permanent link with its inhabitants.
According to the city historian, over ninety percent of the tourists coming to Cuba want to visit Havana, whose restoration, he said, was now almost accomplished with a near religious faith.