Hotel groups descent on Cuba
Havana, Cuba – 17 May 2017 –
The annual Latin American Hotel and Tourism Investment Conferences meeting has opened in Havana and the list of sponsors read like the who’s who of the US hotel industry, Reuters reported.
The head of the organisation, Arturo Garcia, said it was no accident that the likes of Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Choice and Wyndham were supportive.
“The next step in the development of the hotel business in Cuba is the participation of the US companies here,” he said.
The event is the latest indication, following the signing of agreements earlier this year by major cruise companies, that the US hospitality industry is betting that hotel operator and now President Donald Trump will not shut the Cuba door on his industry peers.
“We are very interested in Cuba as a destination for our guests,” said David Tarr, senior vice president for real estate and development at Hyatt. “Certainly we hope relations will be normalised. Our guests want to visit, which is why we are here.”
On the eve of President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba last year, and after obtaining a special Treasury Department licence, Starwood became the first American hospitality company in more than half a century to operate a hotel, Four Points Sheraton, on the island.
“Most sponsors are waiting for this same approval and when they get it you will see their hotels all over the island,” said Garcia, the conference president.
Louis Alicea, Wyndham’s Latin American and Caribbean development director, said he hoped US constraints would loosen further.
“Slowly but surely we are learning about the conditions here and our company is working together with the U.S. authorities in this process,” he said.