Cuba puts hope on China tourism to attract business

Cuba received fewer tourists in January, compared to previous month

HAVANA, March 16th (CGTN) Cuba expects to surpass five million tourists this year including about 50,000 visitors from China. While the number is small compared to other countries, officials say they are pushing for more Chinese vacationers to the Caribbean island.

“Along with the Cubans, we are launching an image, a culture because we want to bring more Chinese visitors to Cuba so that they know the Cuban people and their history,” said Wang Cheng, the general manager of Luz-Tur S.A. Travel Agency.

Although Air China launched direct flights from Beijing to Havana at the end of 2015, most Chinese visitors come to Cuba through third countries.

Chinese visitors come to Cuba not only looking for the sun and beaches, some want to learn about the island’s history.

“I want to understand the culture here and what Spanish colonization was like at this place and how Cuba enhances a unique culture,” said Tim Xu, a Beijing high school student.

China currently ranks 14th as a tourism market for Cuba. More than 160 million Chinese citizens traveled outside of the country last year.

“I think if they provide some Chinese services in the hotels, it will be really helpful because many Chinese people don’t really speak Spanish. It would also be helpful if hotels provide Chinese guides or translation, as well as hot water to make tea,” said Siying Chen, a Chinese tourist from Guangzhou.

Joint efforts by China and Cuba are also targeting the tourist infrastructure. Chinese companies are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into construction and tourism projects.

“Chinese companies, in my opinion based on the new constitution, will presumably increase actions in the Cuban tourist sector by building hotels, golf courses and real estate and other necessary projects,” said Jose Perello, a tourism businessman.

China and Cuba have long shared a friendship. Cubans hope the natural gifts of their island may encourage a larger presence of Chinese visitors.