HAVANA._ Foreign investment plays a major role in the development of the Cuban tourism industry, said José Daniel Alonso, the business director at the Cuban Tourism Ministry (MINTUR).

In addressing the 70 journalists from 12 countries that attended the 10th International Seminar on Journalism and Tourism recently held in Havana, Alonso praised the importance of investment in the industry and its further development.

The number of foreign arrivals grew by 15 percent in the first semester of this year, while traditional markets such as Germany and France registered a 25 percent increase in that period, he noted.

Foreign investment plays a major role in the development of the Cuban tourism industry, said José Daniel Alonso, the business director at the Cuban Tourism Ministry (MINTUR).According to the source, 27 joint ventures are currently operating in Cuba, and 11 of them are running a total of 5,592 rooms. In addition, 73 management contracts have been signed with 18 foreign hotel chains, accounting for 51.8 percent of the country’s total rooms.

When referring to examples of the progress made in the tourism industry, he mentioned that direct flights between China and Havana will begin next September, thus boosting the connection with tourists from all of Asia.

Cuba, he noted, has several tourist attractions such as 103 protected areas, which include 14 national parks and 10 World Heritage Sites, while seven of its towns have either celebrated or are about to celebrate their 500th anniversary.

Diving, recreational nautical activities, tours and circuits, and nature trips are among MINTUR‘s major projects.

The Cuban official also highlighted the development of real estate agencies, after negotiations on the second joint venture for this kind of project were completed, with 13 real estate projects likely to be materialized by 2020.

An example of a project to be implemented during the first quarter of next year is the construction of a golf course worth $360 million dollars with British investment and another one for $462 million dollars with Chinese firms.

With three cruise ship terminals, Cuba welcomed 287 ships during the latest high tourist season (November-April.)

Also forming part of that infrastructure are seven marinas and ten airports performing international operations, and 62,700 hotel rooms, of which 65 percent belong to four and five star hotels.

Cuban authorities expect to have 85,000 rooms available by 2020, and 110,000 by 2030. Among the leading development and investment zones the MINTUR official mentioned Cienfuegos-Trinidad, in central-southern Cuba, the northern part of Camagüey, Las Tunas and Holguín, the last three in the east.

The three-day international seminar held at the José Martí International Institute of Journalism included talks and visits to tourist attractions.

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