During an official visit to Cuba, French president François Hollande expressed his wish to improve economic and democratic relations between the two countries. This should, in addition to significantly improved diplomatic relations between the Caribbean island and the United States, result in growth in the number of tourist arrivals on the island.
Increase in tourist arrivals
The National center for statistics and information of Cuba (ONEI) announced 3 million visitors, including excursions, in 2014, for a 5.3% increase over 2013. The trend remains positive on the first quarter of 2015 with tourist arrivals up by 14.2 %. It may be observed that 1.65 million tourists visited from abroad and last year about 100,000 French people visited Cuba.
These figures should continue to evolve as at the beginning of the year American companies Delta Airlines, United Airlines and JetBlue Airways all declared a special interest in opening new commercial links. These three companies already operate charter flights from the United States. The development of regular air routes is key to tourism development. Direct flights by Air Canada to Havana have led to an increase on the Island of Canadian tourists, which now represent 70% of international arrivals in Cuba.
A need for accommodations to be filled
Backed by encouraging figures and perspectives from the sectors, a few months ago the country's Tourism minister announced an ambitious goal to reach a supply of 85,500 hotel rooms meeting international standards to be operational by 2020, versus close to 61,200 today. 66.5% of this supply is currently positioned on the four- and five-star segments.
At the beginning of the year, Melia Hotels International, an important contributor to the growth of the country's hotel supply, announced the opening of its biggest hotel on the Island of Cayo Coco. Positioned on the upscale segment, the property has 1,176 rooms. But the competition is getting tougher for the hotel industry on the market. In addition to the implantation of new players on the market attracted by the growth perspectives of the industry, AirBnB has also staked out a position on Cuba's market, announcing the opening of some 1,000 addresses, half of which are located in the capital, Havana.
François Hollande, meanwhile, elected to stay at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba, whose building is listed as a World Heritage Site with UNESCO, making his visit particularly good news for the future of Cuba's tourism industry.
- Cuba: at the dawn of a revolution, a look at a century of tourism
- Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, CEO Melia International Hotels
- Tourist arrivals in Cuba follow a growth curve
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