Cuba to expand lodging capacity to boost tourism

Havana, May 8 (IANS) Cuba’s tourism industry plans to expand its lodging capacity to upwards of 85,000 rooms by 2020, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.

Speaking at the opening of the 33rd International Tourism Fair (FITCuba 2013), held at the beach resort of Varadero, Marrero Tuesday said Cuba currently has nearly 60,000 hotel rooms, 65 percent of which belong to four- or five-star hotels, reported Xinhua.

The country aims to increase that number by some 20,000 rooms over the next seven years.

In 2012, almost 2.9 million travellers visited Cuba, representing a record yearly increase of 4.9 percent, and this year officials hope to host some three million vacationers.

With a total lodging capacity of 58,434 rooms in 335 hotels, Cuba’s tourism infrastructure has steadily grown to accommodate new arrivals. Seventy-one percent of those rooms are at beaches, 23 percent in cities and two percent in natural reserves.

Marrero also unveiled several projects to boost Cuba’s promotion abroad through social networks and new technologies.

Cuba is “a country of many natural beauties, vast cultural and historical heritages (and) one of the safest countries in the world with a hospitable and educated people,” he told representatives from more than 50 countries attending the island nation’s annual travel trade fair.

Tourism is Cuba’s second-biggest source of foreign revenue, after the export of technical and professional services, bringing in $2.1 billion a year.

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