HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Cuba is expected to reach the four million tourist mark on November 10 and to end the year with 750,000 more, said Manuel Marrero in a meeting with tour operators, travel agents, airlines and media in Milan, Italy.
The Cuban minister made the announcement ahead of the opening of the winter season, and took the opportunity to remember that Italy has always remained among the top ten markets for Cuba in the tourism sector.
He stressed that, as part of the development plan and the broad investment process that is being carried out, this year Cuba will have about 5,000 new rooms, including the recently opened Packard and the International Hotel Varadero, which will open soon.
He announced that, by 2019, another 5,250 rooms are expected to be completed, and said they are preparing to build a new five-star luxury hotel in Cayo Largo.
Marrero stressed that the Cuban ministry of tourism supports the expansion of hotel management contracts between Italian groups and national chains, and said they have worked hard on several aspects that contribute to raising the quality of the destination.
He noted that a contract has already been approved with the company Aeropuertos de París (ADP) for the modernization and subsequent administration of the José Martí International Airport in Havana.
Similarly, the addition of two Boeing 737s aircraft has been negotiated with Blue Panorama, which will ensure international flights and the improvement of domestic connections, so necessary for excursions and tourist routes, said Marrero.
Although delayed, the negotiations and signing of contracts for the acquisition of 8,000 new rental cars are being accelerated, he said.
He commented that Cuba, as a tourist destination, has designed and is implementing a strategy for its digital transformation in order to maintain its competitiveness at a global level and also in the Caribbean region.
To this end, a new official portal was created at www.cuba.travel, developed on a platform of digital marketing and e-commerce, which will become the main Internet channel to get to know Cuba.
He added that a site was developed and published for www.cubamaps.cu, where currently more than 15,000 places of interest are located, and continue to geolocate sites to reach the figure of 25,000.
According to Marrero, intensive work is being done to accelerate the deployment of Wi-Fi coverage in tourist facilities, in order to offer Internet access as part of the tourist package.
In the case of hotels, he said, it is planned to cover all common areas, rooms and even reach the beach.
He commented that, to date, 147,900 Italian tourists have been received in the country, and although it represents a decrease over the previous year, he expressed confidence that the development of joint and timely actions will ensure a good winter season with this market.
In 2017, there was a historical record of visitors from Italy, with more than 228,000 tourists.