US hotel chains ready to race for Cuba deals
American hotel chains are competing for the beachfront property in Cuba... but who will be the first to get a foothold as restrictions ease?
Executives from many major US hotel chains have started to show their interest in Cuba in recent months. There have been a number of talks with hotel chains and Cuban officials as the USA loosens the restrictions on American firms operating on the island.
Some of the major brands that have had talks with Cuban officials include Hilton Worldwide, Carlson Hospitality Group and Marriot International.
In July, the American and Cuban government restored their diplomatic relations in July, after a trade embargo and decades of cold hostility. Washington relaxed this trade embargo for the first time in nearly half a century, allowing companies to establish joint ventures and subsidiaries as well as making it possible for them to open warehouses, stores and offices in Cuba.
The USA hopes for a deal that allows US airlines to schedule Cuba flights and they hope that this happens as soon as possible. There is speculation that the US ban on tourists visiting Cuba could soon be eased, as at the moment tourists are not permitted to visit the island unless they meet special criteria.
However, even with the slight ease in travel restrictions there has been a record three million visitors to Cuba last year and this is expected to boom if all travel restrictions are removed.
At the moment, US hotel chains are not able to invest in Cuba because there are restrictions prohibiting American companies from investing and setting up in the Communist nation. Even if these sanctions were lifted, Cuba has traditionally been very slow in approving foreign investment projects.
Rivals from Europe and Canada have seized the opportunity and have been operating and investing in Cuban hotels and resorts for many years. American hotels hope to secure long term leases on resort developments, so that they can start developing their brand in Cuba.
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