Cuba taps adventure tourism potential with new attractions

havana-live-canopy-walkwayHAVANA, Aug. 5   Cuba’s tourism industry is currently souring, but it is about to open a new chapter as it explores its adventure tourism potential, a tourism ministry official said on Monday.

The ministry of tourism (MINTUR) is preparing a mountain climbing adventure course as well as another in the canopy of the surrounding forest in the eastern province of Pinar del Rio. A canopy course is an assault course in which tourists navigate with cables strung among the treetops.

“Pinar del Rio offers great potential to develop eco-tourism in all its forms, thanks to its geography and natural beauty. This is what we intend to capitalize on with these two adventure tourism options,” said Deborah Henriquez, the MINTUR representative in the province, on Sunday.

Until today, mountain climbing has not officially been developed anywhere in Cuba, but this new option will take place on two hills of the Valle de Vinales and will count on a team of certified instructors.

Hernandez said this mountain climbing activity will appeal to all levels of ability, even for complete beginners.

The new canopy course, the island’s second, will be divided across eight platforms in the zone of El Moncada.

They are part of the government’s plan to diversify Cuba’s tourism product as the sector is the island’s second most important source of revenue after medical services.

According to the National Office of Statistics and Information, the number of tourists arriving in Cuba grew by 15.9 percent in the first half year of 2015.

Experts believe that after an eventual normalization of ties with the United States, Cuba could receive up to 3.5 million American tourists a year. However, much work is needed to upgrade its hotel infrastructure for the influx of tourists.