Lonely Planet Writer

Cuba plans construction of 100k new hotel rooms as it rockets to the top of Caribbean tourism

Over the past year, Cuba has rocketed to the top of Caribbean tourism, becoming one of the region’s hottest destinations. To keep up with the tourist boom, Cuba recently announced its plans to build more than 100,000 new hotel rooms over the next 15 years as part of the National Plan for Economic and Social Development.

Cuba set to welcome more tourists than ever.
Cuba set to welcome more tourists than ever. Image by Guillaume Baviere / CC BY 2.0

While American travellers are still not permitted to visit the island for tourist trips, relaxed travel restrictions have made visiting vastly easier than it was before the initial thawing of diplomatic relations in late 2014. The destination’s popularity has also increased for other travellers from around the world; the island received a record 3.52 million visitors in 2015, a number that increased 17.4% from the previous year. Canadians alone make up 40% of all visitors to Cuba, and bookings doubled when the US announced their plans to redefine relations.

Cuba has experienced a huge influx of visitors in recent months
Cuba has experienced a huge influx of visitors in recent months

Stifled by the many years of economic embargo, Cuba’s infrastructure has strained under the weight of the new tourist surge, as the country currently has only 63,000 hotel rooms nationwide; the hotel development plan, supported by the Cuban Communist Party Congress, will work to combat the accommodation shortage issues. Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero has said that the project has already selected potential locations for development, and will also look to incorporate existing hotels. Officials have also stated that the initiative includes plans for other non-hotel related establishments, including marinas and golf courses.