Cuba Picks Up its Tourism Game with Opening of New Cuba Hotels and Restaurants
As the Obama administration eases restrictions for American travellers taking Cuba holidays, many provincial towns are introducing new tourist services for the expected influx of visitors, including new restaurants and hotels.
New Cuba hotels and restaurants are opening up across provincial towns throughout the Caribbean island in preparation for the predicted influx of tourists from the U.S. who will be going on holidays to Cuba this year.
Earlier this year, President Obama relaxed restrictions on American travellers taking Cuba holidays for cultural, religious, academic and educational purposes. This change to the ongoing U.S-Cuba travel embargo followed last year’s decision to allow unlimited Cuba travel for Cuban-American residents.
Many “mum-and-dad businesses” (businesses typically owned and run by members of a family), are booming in towns and cities across Cuba after President Raul Castro’s reform to boost private enterprise.
The port city of Cienfuegos is one example of these booming areas with an additional 14 private restaurants opening within a period of just a few months. Locals say that there are now over 100 home-based B&B-style Cuba hotels in the city. Tourists visiting the city during their holidays in Cuba will now be able to choose from outlets serving pizza, pastries, coffee and refreshing drinks, while they explore the local attractions.
"Competition means you have to improve your service and that's a good thing, everyone gains, you, the tourists and the country," said Orestes Toledo, the owner of the Perla Hostel, a two-room bed and breakfast which overlooks the bay.
"Now even the state will have to shape up," he added.
Cienfuegos is situated 270 km from Cuba’s capital city of Havana, and it is often passed through by foreign tourists who are heading to the beach resort of Varadero during their Cuba holidays or when en-route to Cuba’s eastern and second most important city of Santiago.
Former forest ranger, Tony Azorlin, said: "I think a lot of people are going to open restaurants. I calculate you might eventually see 40 or 50 and a lot of cafes."
"I think there is a market for that many, as long as tourism holds up," he added.
Since Castro lifted restrictions in October, 2010, claiming that small business were vital to the country's future, over 75,000 self-employment licenses have been granted to Cuban residents.
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