Cuba Retains Charm for Foreign Tourism Firms
By US News
New U.S. travel restrictions and a destructive hurricane season last year sucked some air from Cuba’s tourism boom but foreign businesses from Spain’s Melia Hotels to China’s Jin Jiang are pursuing new investments in what remains a promising frontier.
According to sources with knowledge of industry figures, tourist arrivals in the first three months of the year fell to roughly 1.4 million compared with 1.5 million in the same period of 2017.
Yet hospitality companies including Spain’s Melia Hotels International and Iberostar Hotels & Resorts, Singapore’s Banyan Tree Holdings Ltd. and Apollo Global Management LLC’s Diamond Resorts International Inc. have all announced new projects.
“Cuba was, is and will be a key tourism area so it is just a matter of timing,” said Eric Peyre, who represents Louvre Hotels SAS, a French subsidiary of China’s state-owned Jin Jiang International Hotels Development Co <600754.SS>, one of the world’s largest.
Peyre, who has worked in the Cuban tourism industry for 25 years, said the company just took over one hotel but plans to have 10 within a few years.
“Every hospitality company will come to Cuba one day or another and we have decided to enter now,” he said.
Over the last two years more than a dozen cruise lines have also arrived, including U.S. leaders Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. , Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. , which have steadily increased their Cuba stake.