HAVANA – Cuba’s state-run Gaviota tourism agency plans by the year 2020 to nearly double its number of hotel rooms islandwide to 50,000, state television reported.
Gaviota expects to open three new hotels in Havana over the next three years as it bids to make the Cuban capital a premier urban tourism destination in the Caribbean.
The report did not say whether Gaviota’s expansion will rely on joint ventures with foreign hotel companies, which is the dominant mode of the island’s tourism industry.
One of the first steps in the expansion project will be the opening next year of a 246-room, five-star hotel in Old Havana’s historic Manzana de Gomez building.
Set for 2017 is the reopening of the legendary Hotel Packard, with 300 rooms, while 2018 will see the launch of the Prado y Malecon facility, a new seaside inn with 208 guest rooms.
Gaviota’s three existing hotels in the capital, Quinta Avenida, Memories Miramar Havana, and H10 Panorama, are all located in the exclusive Miramar neighborhood.
The project will also include new hotels in the resort of Varadero beach, some 150 kilometers (95 miles) east of Havana, and in the northern keys off the provinces of Villa Clara, Ciego de Avila and Camagüey.
Cuba received 2 million foreign tourists in the first six months of 2015 and is experiencing a boom in visitors from U.S., up 50 percent to 90,000 as a result of Washington’s easing of restrictions on travel to the island.