Havana, voted one of the world’s seven most wonderful cities, is presently very much in vogue as an international tourism destination.

As a result, facilities are operating at full capacity and everything points to the need for accelerated investments in the sector.

Havana, voted one of the world’s seven most wonderful cities, is presently very much in vogue as an international tourism destination.The Swiss foundation that promotes the New7Wonders initiative described the online voting process that resulted in Havana receiving the recognition in December 2014 through the casting of millions of online votes, described the process as a “global exercise in democracy”.

A beautiful statue in the esplanade of the Castle of San Salvador de la Punta, adjacent to the bay, was officially unveiled on June 7, 2016 to mark the award.

The castle – popularly known as La Punta (The Point) -- forms part of Old Havana, a NESCO designated World Heritage Site since 1982.

Even though Havana’s attractions extend far beyond the preservation of the historical center, studies undetaken by the Tourism Ministry (Mintur in Spanish) reveal that this is one of the sites most frequently visited by foreign holiday makers.

Sonia Beltrán, the Mintur representative for the area told The Havana Reporter that in 2015 alone, the province welcomed 1,685,381 foreign tourists, up 21% on the figures for 2014.

She outlined that the city presently has, between hotels, villas and guest houses, 11,309 rooms, amounting to 20% of the national institutional tourism capacity.

She added that even with the further 1,900 residences and 4,700 rooms in private family homes available, there was still insufficient availability.

Beltran confirmed the projection that by 2030 tourism accommodation capacity will have doubled to stay abreast of the growing demand.

Amongst immediate measures being undertaken, she highlighted that Havana would for the coming winter season have 1,400 remodeled and repaired rooms available in the Havana Libre and the Havana Riviera hotels, the Alborada del Comodoro chalets, the Acuario Hotel and the re-opened Viejo y el Mar (Old Man and the Sea) hotel.

According to Beltrán, the rescue of buildings – mostly belonging to the Habaguanex and Gaviota groups -- within the Historic Center continues to progress and from this year 22 installations will be gradually incorporated, 13 of which, including the Manzana, Cueto, Catedral and Hospedería Belén hotels, will have a five star rating.

During the 2016 FitCuba International Tourism Fair, Frank País Oltuski, the technical marketing vicepresident of the Gaviota Tourism Group explained that they presently have 294 rooms on offer in Havana and that they were planning for a sustained expansion between 2018 and 2025 of some 7,000 new sites.

Havana, voted one of the world’s seven most wonderful cities, is presently very much in vogue as an international tourism destination.Forgotten treasures of Havana tourism such as the Packard and Regis hotels, with 61 and 321 rooms respectively, will open in 2018 having been given a new lease on life by Gaviota. He added that the company would also in the Prado zone – but somewhat closer to the sea – open a modern 264 room facilty in 2019.

He explained that for the 2016-17 season, Gaviota planned to offer excellent accommodation options in the city; one beside the Parque Central hotel with 264 rooms, “the end of year opening of which will be the launching of a real jewel of the hotels in Havana”.

The Mintur delegate meanwhile told the press that there were a number of sites in the province ear-marked for new accommodation projects that would facilitate the provision of 2,900 rooms and the development of property and the Bello Monte golf club, work on which is due to start soon.

He pointed to more good news relating to marine activities. The Hemingway Marina plans to extend and modernize facilities such as the sailor´s residences and the marina. There are also proposals to transform the Tarará nautical base and to repair the Venetian Marina.

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