OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
Plaza Vieja, Havana. Photo: Alberto Borrego

The arrival of international visitors to Havana, the country's main port of entry, has increased, as of May 31, by 29%, in comparison to the same period last year, reported Xonia Beltrán, Ministry of Tourism representative in the province.

In a statement to ACN, she emphasized that the emissary markets showing the most growth were Germany, France, Italy, the UK, and Spain.

Beltrán also highlighted the increase in numbers of visitors from the United States, who can only travel to the country under 12 general licenses approved

by the Barack Obama administration, but never as tourists. President Trump has announced that additional requirements for travel are to be implemented as part of his new policy toward Cuba.

Arrivals of vacationers to the capital have increased, she noted, with the establishment of flights by more airlines, and a good cruise season with small and medium-sized ships from several countries adding stops here.

With a current total of 12,079 hotel rooms, significant investment is being made in Havana to expand lodging capacity given the growth in tourism, Beltrán explained, emphasizing the recent inauguration of the Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, the country's first five star-plus facility, reflecting the industry's interest in attracting the demanding luxury market.

She reported that under construction are the Packard Hotel (321 rooms) and the Prado y Malecón (250), which are scheduled to open in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

With the goal of adding more rooms, Beltrán announced the incorporation of facilities belonging to the Havana Lodging Enterprise which are being remodeled for future marketing as part of the Encanto chain of historic, boutique hotels.

Likewise underway are improvements to the city's emblematic hotels, including the Plaza, Inglaterra and Riviera, managed by the Spanish company Iberostar, she noted, adding that Havana, declared a Wonder City of the modern world, also boasts 10,000 B&Bs, in addition to a growing number of private restaurants, paladares.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, to date this year, Cuba has received more than 2.53 million international visitors, which augurs well for projections of 4.2 million in 2017.