Cuba's Jose Marti International Airport in Havana to be refurbished by French firms
Cuba has recorded more than two million tourists so far this year, and the surge in visitors is putting a strain on the country's infrastructure. The Cuban government announced last week that the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana will be renovated by the French company Bouygues, and operated by Aeroports de Paris, the French government-controlled company that runs Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Cuba is one of the most popular destinations at the moment, following the recent resumed relations between the U.S and Cuban governments. So far this year, more than two million tourists have already visited the island, a 12 per cent increase compared to 2015.
As travel demand increases, the country's strained infrastructure is the main topic of concern, with many hotels in Cuba filled to capacity, and long queues at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana. The Cuban government announced last week that Aeroports de Paris, the French government-controlled company that operates several airports including Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, will receive a concession to operate Jose Marti.
This is the largest deal to be made between France and Cuba since France's President Francois Hollande visited Cuba in 2015, and it will be an important infrastructure development for the country. The Havana airport will be renovated by French firm Bouygues, and although details have not yet been released, the airport is expected to have capacity for thousands more travellers every year.
The airport news comes at a good time, following Venezuela's move to cut back on its supply of cheap oil for Cuba which was given in exchange for Cuban doctors working in Venezuelan neighbourhood medical clinics. As a result, energy has been cut back in buildings in Cuba including government offices, where air conditioning has been limited and workers have been told to leave early. Cuba's President Raul Castro has said that the country will see slower growth in 2016, with the economy growing by just one per cent in the first six months of 2016.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said that more than 3.8 million tourists are expected to visit the Caribbean island by the end of 2016. According to Cuba's Head of U.S relations, 138,000 Americans visited the island in the first half of this year, and 80 per cent increase on 2015.
Following more than five decades of hostilities, the U.S and Cuba have resumed diplomatic relations, and the two countries are working together to open up trade and travel deals for the first time since the embargo was enforced in 1961. Over recent months, other international travellers have flocked to the island to experience traditional Cuba before the changes are inevitably made.
Cuba has become a popular tourist destination for Canadian and European travellers over the decades. The capital Havana is home to historic, crumbling architecture, lively bars with live music and dancing, and the picturesque Malecon waterfront, while beach resorts such as a Varadero and Cayo Coco are popular with families and couples due to the tropical landscapes made up of palm-fringed white sand beaches and sapphire lagoons.
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