by Des Ryan
Cruising sailors are being sought as part of Cuba's push to increase its tourism income. New rules governing the building of marinas by foreign investors promise an upgrade to the available facilities along the coastline of the island country.
Marina Hemingway - Cuba’s famous marina
The Cuban State Council has issued a decree allowing 99-year leases on state-owned land to be provided to overseas investors for residential construction. This is important as the financial viability of any marina-related development would need things such as condominiums to make then work.
It was at the country's annual International Tourism Fair that their Tourism Minister, Manuel Marrero, made the announcement. 'With the objective of developing regions that today are virgin, a policy was approved that permits real estate development associated with tourism, fundamentally golf courses, marinas and other complementary tourist investments,' Marrero told a news conference.
To date Cuba has one internationally known marina and two golf courses. There are already a series of projects in various stages of development, including new marina capacity.
Miami based Cuban specialist lawyer sees the announcement as very significant. He was quoted as saying 'It signals that the Raúl Castro government is moving to open up the economy towards the Vietnam model. Fidel and his group are not opposed or cannot stop the moves.'
Foster & Partners is one of the groups reported to be creating a development for a British-Spanish group at Bahia Honda in the western Pinar del Rio province. As well as golf courses, the development will include a marina with at lease 200 berths and almost 2,000 condominiums.
Developments are also planned Varadero and Jibaco, both to the east of Havana, by Canadian and Spanish investors.