As part of an ambitious Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) development plan through 2030, this year some 3,805 hotel rooms should be completed across the country and another 5,000 will be renovated and improved.
Currently, according to José R. Daniel Alonso, Mintur’s general director of development, investment by Cuban state enterprises and international companies are both being promoted to expand lodging capacity.
“We are doing so in important tourist poles like Varadero, where there is investment by the Almest furniture enterprise and Mintur’s real estate company, Inmotur. In this case, we can mention the Oasis and Varadero Internacional hotels. Meanwhile, in this destination, other investment projects are in the preparation stage,” Daniel Alonso reported.
New facilities are being built in the center of the country. Two new joint enterprises and two more hotels on the Ancón Peninsula near Trinidad, Sancti Spíritus: the Hotel Meliá Ancón and the Iberostar Ancón. The later is affiliated with the joint enterprise Iberostar Trinidad, which is also projecting investment to renovate and expand its hotel of that same name.
With the goal of creating a more diverse range of tourist options across the island and taking advantage of our natural potential, Cuban investments are also being made for new hotels on the Ramón Peninsula and in Guardalavaca, Holguín. Likewise, the development of a tourist pole on Camagüey’s Cayo Cruz is planned by the Ministry, to contribute to reaching the capacity projected for 2030.
“We are re-evaluating our strategies, because urban, patrimonial, and cultural products are increasingly in demand, and we must balance this with the product for which we are recognized worldwide, that is that of sun and sand.
“This balance must function so people can enjoy the sun and the beach, as well as our culture, and all that colonial towns offer, including Havana, which will soon reach its 500th anniversary, and which is very attractive around the world,” Daniel Alonso commented.
Achieving quality service for those who visit Cuba also requires complementary spaces. The development of extra-hotel activity is an imperative to provide cities with a variety of options.
“This is an area in which we are working hard and think that the preparation completed this year will serve to begin a real launch linked to theme and water parks, marinas, cabarets, and other spaces, which give those who visit us recreational options, making use of other tourist products that are not only the hotels,” added the Mintur director of development.
Another issue that must be addressed is connectivity. The Ministry of Tourism, along with the Ministry of Communications, is carrying out a national development plan to achieve one hundred percent WiFi coverage in all tourist facilities.
“This year we are going to make an important investment that exceeds 11 million dollars for this program. At this time, the technology is being purchased, which will begin to be installed and make possible that in hotels, even in beach areas, 100% of all areas will have WiFi coverage. We are also working to ensure that tourist buses have WiFi in Varadero, the keys, and Havana, so visitors are able, for example, to tour the city and broadcast their experiences live. All this will be concretized in 2019,” said Daniel Alonso.
In addition to these objectives, the development of a real estate program is foreseen, with the constitution of several joint ventures, some of which will begin construction in the first quarter of next year.
“We are talking about Bello Monte, east of the capital; Punta Colorada, in Pinar del Río; El Salado in the Mariel Special Development Zone; and Carbonera, in Matanzas, and recently a new joint venture was approved for this modality in the area known as La Altura, in Pinar del Río. These are part of an important investment program for tourism development and will be joint ventures, large projects of around 600 million dollars that will include buildings linked to tourism, golf courses, hotels, shops, marinas and other attractions,” the Mintur development director said.
HAVANA AT 500
The development of foreign investment is an important factor for the country’s economy and especially for tourism. Two projects are currently under development and another eight are being negotiated for the creation of joint ventures to build new hotels or expand existing ones.
Havana and its hotels play an important role in foreign investment. Emblematic facilities such as the Meliá Habana, the Riviera, the Cohíba, Neptuno-Tritón and others, have foreseen investments with international partners to improve their facades and comfort level.
“In the case of the Habana Libre and the Riviera, both have agreed to financing plans with the operators that manage and market these hotels. In the case of the Riviera, the partner is Iberostar and the Habana Libre with Meliá. Both investments exceed 20 million dollars, which will serve to fully restore the facilities at these hotels.
“The Packard Hotel was completed in Havana, and the Prado & Malecón, the Paseo del Prado Regis, are expected to be ready very soon, while two others have already begun construction at First & D Street, and Third & 70th. There are also the Cuban investments by Almest and the Ministry of Tourism that will add a number of new rooms in Havana. According to our plan, there will be 5,000 new rooms and 6,000 remodeled by 2030,” said Daniel Alonso.
Extra-hotel investment is also being considered in Havana, including the renovation of the 1830 entertainment complex, the Artisans Palace, and the Habana Club in the locale currently known as the José Antonio Echeverría Center. The former discotheque at the Hotel Comodorois is being renovated as a night club offering dinner, a dance floor, and performances by musical groups.
“Also among projects to improve the tourist product in the city is the façade plan, including the Hotel Plaza, with a very deteriorated image, the Inglaterra, and other exteriors. The Hotel Lincoln will also receive room repairs; the shopping malls at Meliá Cohíba will be renovated; and other works, in all cases the technological issue will be improved and the exteriors of these sites beautified,” he added.
Along with the anniversary of the city and investment projects throughout the country, scheduled in May is the FitCuba International Tourism Fair 2019, which on this occasion will be dedicated to Havana’s 500th anniversary and Spain, as the guest country of honor.This new edition of the fair, based in the Morro-Cabaña historical complex, is set to include an extensive program focused on event and incentive tourism. Cuba has experience in this modality, with important convention centers throughout the country and, above all, is a destination where visitors can combine events of any kind with enjoyment of cities.“It’s been two years since the fair has been held in Havana and we are sure that it will be a magnificent opportunity to promote the city on its 500th anniversary. This city, despite its 500 years, is still an important site. Given the interest we see in tour operators, travel agencies, and foreign companies operating in Cuba, we think this will be a great fair. As is the case every year, we will be promoting all the foreign investment opportunities in tourism projects that we have in our portfolio,” said Daniel Alonso.FitCuba 2019 is dedicated to Havana, but will also promote Cuba as a destination. New products will be presented and businesses agreements established, making this gathering an ideal opportunity to expand Cuban tourism and, at the same time, promote foreign investment in the sector, and our own, to enhance the country as destination.