Cuba bets on tourism amidst struggling economy and US sanctions

Global Business

Cuba bets on tourism amidst struggling economy and US sanctionsPHOTO/Luis Chirino

Cuba announced new investment and business opportunities in its tourist sector during an international tourism fair held in Havana last week.

The initiative takes place amidst financial and economic tensions and the strengthening of the U.S. comprehensive trade embargo on the Caribbean island nation.

CGTN’s Luis Chirino reports. 

Last May 2nd, Washington announced the enactment of Title III of the Helms-Burton Law, also known as Libertad Act, which allows U.S. citizens to file suits with American courts against Cuban or foreign companies which operate in properties confiscated to U.S. nationals by the Cuban government in the early 1960s.

The U.S. move has found criticism from several countries like Spain.

“The Spanish government is taking actions, through the European Commission, to protect the interests of our companies from these U.S. measures,” said Spanish Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, Maria Reyes in a press conference during the Havana Tourism Fair.

For Spanish businessmen like Juan Antonio Montes, director of Barcelo Hotels, a large chain operating in Cuba, the Spanish government’s response to Washington is important because it protects Spanish businesses from what he called a senseless extraterritorial law not valid out of the U.S.

Cuba counts on more than 69,000 hotel rooms and many other tourist attractions, while upcoming investment will use over three million dollars to build new hotels and business projects, as announced by Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero.

Some five million foreign visitors are expected to travel to the island this year, which could add over three billion dollars to the island´s struggling economy. Just this month the ministry of tourism announced that two million vacationers have already traveled to this Caribbean destination.

The tourist fair, dedicated to the 500th birthday of Havana city with Spain as guest nation, served as a meeting point for foreign entrepreneurs to ratify their interest in doing business with Cuba, which have offered legal guarantees and new business opportunities.