Cuba’s participation in the 36th International Tourism Fair (FITUR) 2016, in Madrid, Spain, showcased the vital link between Spain’s private sector and Cuba’s rapidly expanding travel and tourism sector.
The Cuba delegation was led by Cuba’s Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz. The mission was to promote the island nation’s newest top tourist destinations: Varadero, Trinidad, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba.
During his keynote address, Mr. Marrero said, “Cuba will not forget those individuals and companies that lent a helping hand in times of hardships, especially Meliá, a company that gave up on its hotels in the United States to stay in Cuba.”
Participating from Cuba were directors of hotel groups Gaviota, Cubanacán, Gran Caribe, Islazul, Habaguanex, Meliá Hoteles, Iberostar, NH, Barceló, Blau, Blue Diamonds, Accor; travel agencies, Viajes Cubanacán, Cubatur and Gaviotatours; tour operator, Havanatur, as well as Paradiso, Amistur and Caracol.
Cuba’s current hotel development pipeline includes new entrants as well as incumbent players exploiting opportunity in the most dynamic segments of the hotel sector. For example, Germany-based Kempinski has partnered with Gaviota to refurbish a landmark building in Old Havana into a 246 key, 5-star luxury hotel (Hotel Manzana) slated to open in 2016. There appears to be a French construction company involved in the project – a sign this hotel is being constructed under a date-certain, fixed price contract that is standard in more mature marketplaces.
Of the estimated 18 foreign hotel brands active in Cuba today, Meliá Hotels is by far the most important single foreign player. The Spanish company started operations there in 1990 and today manages about 3,000 rooms via 27 management contracts with various entities of the Cuban government (excluding current projects under development).
Meliá has announced two new projects. The largest is the Meliá Veradero Internacional. This renovation of an existing property will become a 934 room all-inclusive resort divided into two areas: families and adult-only.
95,279 Spanish tourists visited Cuba from January through November 2015, a notable increase over the 70,584 registered during the same period in 2014.
Mr. Marrero pointed out the Spanish uptick was owed in part to Iberia’s return to the island nation with six weekly flights, coupled with Air Europa’s seven flights and EVelop, a low-cost company with three weekly flights.
Learn more about hotel investment in Cuba, How to Frame the Argument About Hotel Investment in Cuba.