Interview with Alexander Sierra Bouzas, director of the Development Department of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism.
“Based on the country’s tourist boom and especially in the capital, considerable resources will be invested in the reconstruction of our hotels to rejuvenate the cycle of life of existing products while creating new accommodation projects, together with non-hotel recreation offers, some real estate developments associated to golf, marinas and nautical clubs; as well as investments with a view to strengthening camping and nature tourism, which form part of the sector’s development plan up to 2030,” thus Alexander Sierra, director of the Development Department of the Cuban Ministry of Tourism, began the interview with TTC.
Further on Sierra explained that “the principal immediate strategy is the recovery of the existing hotel plant and in rapidly reconverting what we have to raise the standard, change the classification and offer better comfort and quality service.”
At present, according to the information contributed by Sierra, Cuba is prioritizing the works in the Historic Center of Havana – declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO -, where there are plans to expand the cruise, ferry and mega yacht terminal, while recovering buildings of value, the majority owned by Habaguanex and the Gaviota Tourism Group. At this precise moment the Historic Center has 1,856 rooms in 28 installations, four of them classified as five-star establishments, and starting this year 2,556 rooms in 24 hotels, 13 of them five stars, are being incorporated.
Other plans include new developments in centric areas of Plaza de la Revolución municipality, in El Vedado, fundamentally between the sectors of La Rampa and Malecón, where there are 2,622 rooms in 11 hotels, of which three have a five-star classification. The addition of at least 4,312 rooms in 12 five-star establishments is being planned up to 2030.
Special mention should be given to the works in the areas of Monte Barreto – linked to events and conventions – and of the Hemingway Marina, to be modernized as a Nautical and Marina Residential area given the strategic position between the Mariel Special Development Zone and the Historic Center of Havana. In both areas, close to the Palco Complex and the Convention Center, 3,282 rooms are currently operating in 12 hotels, of which two are five-star installations. Up to 2030 there are plans to add 2,500 rooms in six new five-star installations.
To the east, 20 minutes from the capital, considering Cojímar, Bacuranao, Tarará, Santa María and Veneciana, there are locations and land plots in which new accommodations associated to the sun and beach and nautical modalities are being planned. This coastal strip has conditions for nautical bases and docking of marinas that converge and are linked up to Santa Cruz del Norte, Jibacoa and Puerto Escondido, on the way to Matanzas and Varadero, where the first real estate project associated to golf is about to begin in Carbonera.
“We are also planning,” he continued, “the construction of a hotel associated to José Martí International Airport since Havana is precisely the city that receives the largest quota of the foreign and national tourist market wishing to visit the Wonder City of the World, and it could also be used by crews, for delayed flights or technical stopovers.
“We Cubans have a great opportunity and responsibility: to double the number of rooms in the capital and its surrounding areas, with new buildings and modern technologies.”
That express determination will be materialized in the execution of at least two new real estate developments associated to golf, to the east and west of Havana, one in Bello Monte, to the south of Playas del Este, along the Havana-Varadero tourist corridor, and another in El Salado as part of the Havana-Mariel corridor.
In the Havana-Mariel main stretch, along the old Panamericana Highway, other mid- and long-term developments extend within the Havana-Pinar del Río north circuit, which are combined with the cays to the north and with nature offers to the south, in Protected Areas and National Parks.
“There’s no time to waste, we know we have to organize many resources and work hard,” the director of the Development Department of the Ministry of Tourism optimistically concluded.