OFFICIAL VOICE OF THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CUBA CENTRAL COMMITTEE
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Caibarién, Villa Clara. – Thanks to Fidel's foresight, Cuba has a resort pole like Jardines del Rey, on the keys along Villa Clara's northern coast, where the 38th International Tourism Fair FitCuba 2018 took place.

With his extraordinary strategic vision, the historic leader of the Revolution was able to foresee the adversities of the Special Period, and recognize that one of the country's principle sources of income was to be found on this string of barrier islands - something that many described as a pipe dream at the time, given the complexities and costs of such a project.

Nonetheless, like so many other times, the Comandante en Jefe, who always believed in doing the impossible, forged ahead, allocating the necessary resources to Villa Clara's construction brigade to build the Caibarién-Cayo Santa María causeway, without which the building of hotels and necessary infrastructure would not be feasible.

Fidel, on one of his visits to the causeway. Photo: Vanguardia Archive

Thus, on September 12, 1989, during a visit to the province's northern keys, Fidel ordered the first contingent of workers and equipment to begin the project, that was launched December 15 with the first rocks heaved into the sea, in an effort that many describe as epic, and cost the country some 85 million pesos.

The road that links the mainland with Las Brujas, Ensenachos, and Santa María keys, as well as the small islands of Cobos, Fragoso, Majá, Francés, Las Picúas, and Español de Adentro, was concluded ten years later. It has been estimated that the number of trips needed to carry all the rock 48 kilometers into the sea were equivalent to going around the equator more than 630 times.

To avoid affecting plant and animal life in the area, more than 40 bridges were built, with cement mixed on site and prefabricated structures, outstanding among which is that over the ship canal, the country's longest of this type at 350 meters.

A PARADISE IN CENTRAL CUBA

On December 16, 1999, the Las Brujas airport and terminal were built on Punta Periquillo, as well as a hotel with 24 cabins and a restaurant, an event that marked the beginning of rapid development on Villa Clara's northern keys.

Joining this first facility, in 2001, was the Hotel Sol Cayo Santa María, with 300 rooms, explained Orestes Chaviano Rojas, provincial representative of the Gaviota state enterprise, telling the press that currently located on this key are 12 hotels with a total of 8,772 rooms available.

On Cayo Ensenachos, where travel experts say one of the world's best beaches is located, the Iberostar Ensenachos was built, with 506 rooms and unrivaled comfort. Several important national events have been held here, including the first Cuba-Venezuela Summit, July 25- 26, 2010.

Investment projects have continued on Cayo Las Brujas, where four hotels have been constructed, with 1,267 rooms, Chaviano said, adding that in the entire resort area across the province's northern keys, 10,545 rooms available to national and international guests.

Looking to provide more tourist attractions in the area, other infrastructure has been created beyond the hotels, including a dolphinarium, where these marine mammals perform and interact with visitors, Chaviano reported.

Also available to tourists is a marina offering tours on yachts and sailboats, as well as diving, snorkeling, and fishing excursions. Additionally built for the enjoyment of visitors are three seaside plazas, located between the hotels

Ocean Casa del Mar and Valentín Perla Blanca, as well as La Estrella and Las Dunas.

THE COUNTRY'S HOTEL CAPACITY CONTINUES TO GROW

- Cuba currently has more than 68,000 rooms available to meet national and international tourism demand, a figure that will continue to increase over the next few years, to reach 103 000, as projected in the country's socio-economic development plan through 2030, according to Alexis Trujillo Morejón, first deputy minister of Tourism.

- Over the last few years, hotel capacity in the country increased by an average of 3,000 rooms annually, in the country's major resort areas of Varadero, Havana, Villa Clara, Ciego de Ávila, and Holguín, among others, Trujillo said, adding that the goal is to complete 5,000 a year, in the coming period, to meet growing demand.

- Within this context comes the announcement of plans to build Havana's tallest hotel, on the busy corner of 23rd and K Street in Vedado. The 42-story, five star facility will have 565 rooms, according to ACN, and will be built with 100% Cuban capital.

- Trujillo described FitCuba 2018 as a great opportunity to show tour operators, journalists, and industry leaders, from around the world, the quality and variety of tourist products Cuba offers, as one of the most recognized and safe destinations in the world.