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Safe distance from coastline is an imperative for new hotels in Cuba

Cuba's Tourism Ministry recently announced that they would be demolishing buildings along Cuba's coastline to prevent further beach erosion after scientists have discovered that rising sea levels could severely damage 122 towns on the island. Many seaside restaurants and hotels are in the process of being torn down and while some properties such as Hotel Melia Marina Varadero and yacht club are safe, many others are contributing to coastline erosion.

Safe distance from coastline is an imperative for new hotels in Cuba

Cuba's coastline is under threat after scientists discovered that rising sea levels and coastline erosion could seriously damage 122 towns on the Caribbean island.

While new hotels such as the Melia Marina Varadero are located a safe distance from the coastal damage, hundreds of other older properties are in the process of being demolished in an attempt to prevent further beach erosion.

Scientists are predicting that beaches could become submerged, freshwater sources could be tainted, and croplands made infertile as seawater travels 1.2 miles inland to low-lying areas.

After decades of haphazard coastal development, hundreds of hotels, restaurants and houses along the island's 3,500 miles of coastline will now have to be destroyed in a race to restore Cuba's natural coastline.

"The government realised that for an island like Cuba, long and thin, protecting the coasts is a matter of national security," explained Jorge Alvarez, the Director of Cuba's government-run Centre for Environmental Control and Inspection.

The Caribbean is facing the biggest risk from climate change and rising seas and strong hurricanes are posing a threat to coastal towns, cities and agriculture throughout the region.

Cuba is beginning to improve its tourism offerings by opening new hotels and golf courses along the picturesque coastline but these could be at risk if sea levels rise nearly three feet by the century's end as predicted by scientists.

Varadero is one prime example of Cuba's dilemma with an array of beachfront hotels, restaurants and pools that attract thousands of tourists visiting Cuba every year as well as millions in tourism revenue. Varadero Beach is one of the country's most popular beachfronts but if the buildings stay where they are, the beaches could be at risk from erosion.

Cayo Coco is another popular tourist resort region in Central Cuba that faces the very same problems and Cuban officials are trying to replenish lost sand in Varadero and Cayo Coco but it is an expensive solution. The costs range from $3 to $8 per cubic metre, but a single beach could span up to 1 million cubic metres of sand.

Government officials are now enforcing stricter regulations for new buildings. While new hotels such as the Melia Marina Varadero and yacht club, which opened last month, can stay where it is because it is located a safe distance from the sea, other new developments are being moved further inland.

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