The 2016 FITCuba International Tourism Trade Fair confirmed that thanks to very well-preserved natural landscapes, friendly people, safety and outstanding beauty, Cuba -- and Havana in particular -- are very much in fashion.

The 2016 FITCuba International Tourism Trade Fair confirmed that thanks to very well-preserved natural landscapes, friendly people, safety and outstanding beauty, Cuba -- and Havana in particular -- are very much in fashion.This 36th edition of FITCuba, at which Canada was the guest of honor, was held jointly in the Morro-Cabaña Complex and the Habana Libre Hotel between May 3 and 7. It was the largest to date and was dedicated to cultural tourism products.

At the opening of the trade fair, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero, said that this sector was the second biggest source of hard currency for Cuba.

At a conference in the Ambassadors Hall of the Tryp Marrero Habana Libre Hotel, he said this was the biggest of the events convened, with delegates accompanied by 173 photographers from their 53 countries in attendance.

Marrero spoke at the 60th Meeting for the Americas of the World Tourism Organization (OMT in Spanish), that was held in Havana on May 3 and 4, which had 26 member delegations, including 17 ministers present and was chaired by secretary general, Taleb Rifai.

The minister said that Cuba had welcomed a total of 3,524,779 visitors in 2015, a 17% increase on the previous year.

He revealed that the ten principal markets for tourism to Cuba were Canada (1,300,000
in 2015), Germany, U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina.

The 2016 FITCuba International Tourism Trade Fair confirmed that thanks to very well-preserved natural landscapes, friendly people, safety and outstanding beauty, Cuba -- and Havana in particular -- are very much in fashion.The official noted that there were 126 proposed projects related to the list of opportunities for foreign investment and said that by the end of April, 76 administration and sales contracts had been approved with 17 foreign hotel chains.

He added that 27 joint venture companies were currently operating 500 four and five star hotel rooms.

There are also now more than 1,700 private restaurants (known as Paladares) and 18 cooperatives in the sector.

Marrero confirmed that on average 2,500 rooms per year would open in Cuba and that in 2019 such investments would double to 5,000 per year and surpass a 62,000 room total.

He reported that flight operations had risen by 8.3 %. to 25,792 in 2015.

The Minister of Tourism emphasized that although in the previous year 161,233 North Americans had visited Cuba, travel restrictions from this neighboring country remained in force.

200 business people and representatives from the U.S. participated in FITCuba.

He said that the number of foreign visitors to Havana in 2015 of 1,685,000 had shown a 37.4% increase, reaching 572,000 for the first three months of 2016.

The 2016 FITCuba International Tourism Trade Fair confirmed that thanks to very well-preserved natural landscapes, friendly people, safety and outstanding beauty, Cuba -- and Havana in particular -- are very much in fashion.Bardish Chagger, the Canadian Minister of Tourism, said at the trade fair that her country (the guest of honor) wanted not only to reinforce its ties to Cuba in the recreational sector, but also in other spheres.

Regarding this she referred in particular to the potential of her country to cooperate with commercial exchanges in the renewable energy, agriculture and technology sectors.

Last year, 1,300,000 Canadians visited Cuba and the country’s tourism authorities hope to match or surpass that figure again this year.

In line with this, OMT secretary general, Taleb Rifai, praised the growth of the Cuban industry during his participation in both the 36th fair and the 60th meeting of the organization in Havana.

The official said that almost 1,200 million people per year traveled abroad for holidays, a figure that is expected to rise to 1,800 million.

He also reflected on the ties in the sector between Cuba and Canada, saying that both nations are well placed tof urther develop the sector.

For its participants, the recently concluded 36th FitCuba International Tourism Trade Fair confirmed the industry’s growth spiral in trips to the Island.

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