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havana-live-hotel-iberostar_parque_central_HAVANA,  July 24  Spain is holding talks to secure hotel and infrastructure deals in Cuba as the island opens up to foreign investors, Spanish tourism minister Jose Manuel Soria said.

Cuban authorities are targeting more than $2 billion in foreign investment on an annual basis to bolster growth after five decades of global isolation, Soria said in a Bloomberg Television interview.

As part of the plan to modernize Cuba, the country is seeking to increase the number of hotel rooms and improve old infrastructure, said Soria, who also oversees Spain’s energy and industry sectors. He said he sees opportunities for Spanish companies specializing in those areas.

“The Cuban government told me of the objective for 30,000 new tourist beds,” he said. “Apart from tourism, they will need generating plants, new electricity grids, new infrastructure, roads and airports, and Spanish companies are well situated.”

Some of Spain’s biggest travel companies already operate in Cuba, including Iberia airlines, which covers the Madrid-Havana route, as well as hotel giants NH Hotel Group SA and RIU Hotels SA. Spanish exports to Cuba totaled 75.7 million euros ($83 million) in May, according to the government in Madrid.

“Despite the multiple historical and cultural ties between the two countries, diplomatic relationships with Cuba have been rather frosty for years,” said Angel Talavera, an economist with Oxford Economics in London. “This may signal a change in attitude from the Spanish government, probably concerned about losing investment opportunities and economic influence in favor of America.”

Earlier this month, Soria traveled to Cuba on an official visit accompanied by Spanish diplomats and representatives of companies including Iberdrola SA, Obrascon Huarte Lain SA and Ferrovial SA. The trip to Spain’s former colony coincided with the restoration of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-23/cuban-hotel-infrastructure-deals-are-spanish-goals-soria-says

superfast_1_attica_HAVANA, July 12   The US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has granted Attica Group approval to operate its American subsidiary, Superfast Ferries LLC, a marine route between the US and Cuba.

Attica is still in the process of applying for approval from the Cuban government for its operation, which would operate in connection with travel and transportation of people, baggage and cargo.

“We are pleased to receive the US government approval and are excited to be able to offer service on the historically important US-Cuba marine route,” said Spiros Paschalis, CEO of Attica Group. “The US license confirms the reliability, trust and superior quality for which Attica Group’s fleet has been internationally renowned for. “

The service, which would provide daily non-stop travel between the Port of Miami in Florida and the port of Havana in Cuba, would enable Attica Group to use its industry experience to excel in the fast-growing US-Cuban market, the company said.

“Opening up the US-Cuba route is an important step in rebuilding relations between the two countries,” Paschalis said. “We hope to be able to provide travelers an opportunity to experience the immense beauty and rich cultural heritage of Cuba. We are proud to be chosen as trusted operators to carry passengers and cargo back and forth to an exciting new destination.”

Two of the group’s ferries have already been tapped as ideal for this service, each with carrying capacities of approximately 1,700 passengers, 700 berths and 2,000 lane meters garage, with room for about 570 cars.

The vessels also come equipped with restaurants, duty free shops, swimming pools, bars, playrooms and other facilities for families.

Attica’s is the latest proposed ferry service to receive US approval.

The company focuses on passenger shipping in the Adriatic between Greece and Italy.

US travel to Cuba remains prohibited except under 12 approved categories, from people-to-people trips to humanitarian work.

Attica’s ships are not new to the region; Resorts World Bimini’s Bimini Superfast is actually a former Attica Group ferry.