Havana – Cuba is intending to increase its hotel capacity on its offshore keys and islets to take advantage of the economic opportunities offered by tourism, according to leaders in the sector attending the 32nd International Fitur Fair.
The most recently developed tourist destination in Cuba is Cayo Santa Maria, an islet offering sun and beaches off the northern coast of central Villa Clara province, and it was selected to be the site of the fair that is attended by tour operators, travel agents, airline representatives and associations and organizations in the sector.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero emphasized the economic importance for the country of expanding development of the keys and islands of all sizes off the Cuban mainland, according to a report on state-run television.
The plan is to construct 45,000 hotel rooms by 2030 on the keys in the country's north-central region east to the province of Camaguey.
Currently, Cayo Santa Maria, some 340 kilometers (211 miles) east of Havana, has some 6,000 hotel rooms operated by chains like Spain's Melia and Barcelo, according to the commercial director of the Tourism Ministry, Jose Manuel Bisbe, as cited by local media.
The organizers of the country's most important tourist event also announced the promotion of other nearby destinations such as Las Brujas and Ensenachos keys in their campaign to motivate people to take more family vacations.
In addition, they emphasized the growing flow of visitors from Argentina, with 58,612 of its citizens visiting Cuba in 2010, more than 70,000 in 2011 and predictions that 100,000 Argentines will visit the communist-ruled island this year.
Argentina is currently the main provider of Latin American tourists to Cuba and stands in third place overall, after Canada and France.
Cuba has welcomed more than 1.24 million foreign visitors so far this year, and official forecasts are that 2.9 million foreigners will travel to the island on vacation during the course of 2012.