Cuba seeking Chinese tourism investment and visitors

Cuba is hoping that China will become a major source market for visitors and tourism related investment.

Articles appearing in the Chinese official media have quoted Jose Alonso, the Director of Business Development at Cuba’s Ministry of Tourism, as saying that joint ventures managing hotels, new contracts with service providers or any other type of cooperation with Chinese companies has become a priority for the Cuban government. He also indicated that Cuba was willing to learn from the experience of both private and state firms in China.

The official news agency, Xinhua, reported Alonso as saying that “real progress is being made in boosting collaboration with China in the tourism sector” and that new investments would be announced soon. He said that the hope was that China will be able to repeat the success achieved in the last nine years with the joint venture created between the island’s Cubanacan group and China’s Suntime Enterprise which operates the Grand Kempinski Shanghai Hotel in China.

Xinhua also quoted Alonso as saying that Cuba wants to encourage the presence of Chinese hotel operators in Cuba and Chinese experience in the sector.

Citing as evidence of growing Chinese interest Alonso noted that work on completing the design and feasibility studies for a US$500m Cuban-Chinese joint venture for the construction of a large hotel-apartment complex and an 18-hole professional golf course in Bellomonte to the east of Havana. Work is expected to begin on the project in 2020, Alonso said. He also said that another Chinese company had shown an interest in a new real estate project and golf course in Loma Linda, in Holguin.

Beyond hotels and real estate projects, Xinhua reported that Cuba is interested in attracting Chinese investors in the car rental sector as 65% of rental cars are Chinese, as are almost all tourist buses. 

Alonso said that Cuba is hoping that in addition to attracting Chinese visitors to visit and see Cuba, they will participate in the multi-destination tourism the country is developing with Nicaragua, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad, Jamaica and Costa Rica.

Cuba’s Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero, recently said that Chinese visitor arrivals grew by 10% in 2018.

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